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Research findings

ELVS investigators look at various parts of childhood communication development. Here are some key findings from the data that the ELVS participants have shared with us so far.


By three years of age, the incidence of stuttering onset over time was 8.5% in the ELVS group. This is much higher than reported previously. Onset often occurred suddenly over one to three days (49.6%) and involved putting words together (97.1%). Children who stuttered were not more shy or withdrawn. Male gender, twin birth status, higher vocabulary scores at two years of age, and high level of maternal education were associated with stuttering onset. Early onset of stuttering was not associated with language delay, social and environmental factors, or preonset shyness/withdrawal.
Health professionals can reassure parents that onset of stuttering is not unusual up to three years of age and seems to be associated with rapid growth in language development.

Language and memory

At age five we looked at the language and memory of some of the children who were saying few words at age two. The most important findings from this study were:

Late starters can catch up, with language skills at age five similar to those of children who produced more words at age two.
Those late starters who continued to have difficulties with language at age five were likely to have memory skills that were less advanced.


Across the years of development studied so far a number of children diagnosed with autism have appeared. We had 20 at the age of four years, but almost 50 by the age of seven with most coming to light between five and seven years of age. Many of the later diagnosed cases have Asperger Syndrome. We are interested particularly in early signs of autism that differentiate children with autism spectrum disorder from children with other delays and disabilities.

The early development of children with autism was compared to that of other ELVS children. We found that children with autism produced less communicative gestures at two years of age than children with developmental delay, or language impairment or typically developing children. The study continues to look for further early markers as the children grow older and it is hoped the results of the study will lead to earlier detection of autism in the future.

School readiness

ELVS has looked at what factors help predict a child's readiness to start school at five-six years of age that might be identifiable before school entry.  The most helpful characteristics in being ready for good progress at school were:

  • Level of language expression
  • Level of language understanding
  • Pre-literacy skills including knowledge of letters and their sounds.

Skeat J, Wake M, Ukoumunne OC, Eadie P, Bretherton L, Reilly S. Who gets help for pre-school communication problems? Data from a prospective community study. Child: care, health and development (2013)

Castles A, McLean GM, Bavin E, Bretherton L, Carlin J, Prior M, Ukoumunne O, Wake M, Reilly S. Computer use and letter knowledge in pre-school children: a population-based study. Journal of Paediatric Child Health. 49(3):193-8 (March 2013)
Kefalianos E, Onslow M, Block S, Menzies R,  Reilly S. Early Stuttering, Temperament and Anxiety: Two Hypotheses.
Journal of Fluency Disorders. 2012 Sep;37(3):151-63 (2013) doi: 10.1016/j.jfludis.2012.03.002. Epub 2012 Mar 29 

Veness C, Prior M, Bavin E, Eadie P, Cini E, Reilly S. Early indicators of autism spectrum disorders at 12 and 24 months of age: A prospective, longitudinal comparative study. Autism,16 (2) (March 2012)

Petruccelli N, Bavin EL, Bretherton L. Children with Specific Language Impairment and resolved late talkers: working memory profiles at 5 years. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 55, 1690-1703 (2012)

Prior M, Bavin E, Ong B. Predictors of school readiness in five-to six - year old children from an Australian longitudinal community sample. Educational Psychology ( 1): 3-16 (2011)

Ukoumunne O, Wake M, Carlin J, Bavin E, Lum J, Skeat J, Williams J, Conway L, Cini E, Reilly S. Profiles of language development in pre-school children: Longitudinal latent class analysis of data from the Early Language in Victoria Study. Child: Care, Health and Development, DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2011.01234.x epub ahead of print (24th March 2011)

Prior M, Bavin E, Cini E, Reilly S, Eadie P. Relationships between language impairment, temperament, behavioural adjustment and maternal factors, in a community sample of preschool children. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, (epub ahead of print 24th May 2011)

Prior M, Bavin E, Cini E, Reilly S, Eadie P. Relationships between language impairment, temperament, behavioural adjustment and maternal factors, in a community sample of preschool children. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, (epub ahead of print 24th May 2011)

Nicholls R, Eadie P, Reilly S. Monolingual versus multilingual acquisition of English morphology: What can we expect by age three? International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders. (epub 6th April 2011)

Skeat, J., Gold, L., Reilly, S., Wake, M., Ukoumunne, O. Letter to the Editor: The costs of preschool communication problems: Population study. The Medical Journal of Australia, 2011, 195(6): 322-323. Published 19/9/11

Reilly S, Wake M, Ukoumunne OC, Bavin E, Prior M, Cini E, Conway L, Eadie P, Bretherton L. Predicting language outcomes at 4 Years: Longitudinal Findings From the Early Language in Victoria Study. Pediatrics 126(6): e1-e8(2010)

Skeat J, Eadie P, Ukoumunne O, Reilly S. Predictors of parents seeking help or advice about children's communication development in the early years. Child: Care, Health & Development 36(6) : 753-908 (2010)

Eadie P, Ukoumunne O, Reilly S, Skeat J, Prior M, Bavin E. Assessing early communication behaviours: Structure and validity of the Communication and Symbolic Behaviour Scales-Developmental Profile in 12 month Infants. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders45(5) : 572-585(2010)