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Understanding developmental change in child language development



Staff, Students, Alumni

Speaker: Dr Cristina McKean

What have we learned and what does it mean for children’s services?

The Centre for Language and Communication Science Research at the School of Health Sciences, City, University of London welcomes Dr Cristina McKean from Newcastle University.


Children’s language development varies significantly between individuals and our understanding of the nature and drivers of this variability remains incomplete. This creates problems for services aiming to promote robust language development for all children and address the needs of those with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD).

This seminar draws together findings from a number of studies completed in the Centre of Research Excellence in Child Language (McKean et al 2017a; 2017b; 2016; 2015). This work utilises epidemiological methods analysing data from large scale longitudinal population community cohorts. The work presented focusses on understanding individual differences in child language trajectories and their predictors and considers the broader associated vulnerabilities of children with DLD. Conclusions will be drawn regarding how improved understanding of these processes of change can inform key issues for children’s services. For example who should receive intervention and how should they should be identified, when should we intervene and what are the most promising levers for change?

-McKean C, et al. (2017a) Subgroups in language trajectories from 4 to 11 years: the nature and predictors of stable, improving and decreasing language trajectory groups. J Child Psychol Psychiatr, 58: 1081–1091. doi:10.1111/jcpp.12790

-McKean, C., et al (2017b) Language Outcomes at 7 Years: Early Predictors and Co-Occurring Difficulties. Pediatrics e20161684; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2016-1684

-McKean, C., et al. (2015) Levers for language growth: characteristics and predictors of language trajectories between 4 and 7 years, PLoS One, 10(8), e0134251.

-McKean, C., et al. (2016). Predicting Meaningful Differences in School-Entry Language Skills  from Child and Family Factors Measured at 12 months of AgeInternational Journal of Early Childhood48(3), 329-351

About the speaker

Cristina McKean is a Speech and Language Therapist and Senior Lecturer at Newcastle University, Honorary Fellow at Murdoch Children's Research Institute and Adjunct Fellow at the Menzies Institute Griffith University.

The primary focus of her research is understanding individual differences in the drivers and processes of developmental change in child language development and disorders. Cristina recently completed a Post-doctoral Fellowship at the Centre of Research Excellence in Child Language in Melbourne, where she led work using the ELVS cohort to explore developmental child language trajectories.

Her interests include intervention and service delivery, including understanding optimal collaborative partnerships between professionals and exploring service delivery for children with Language Disorders across Europe as co-chair of a COST Action Working group. She is soon to begin work in the new international collaborative project Social Inequality and its Effects on child Development: A study of birth cohorts in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands.

A light lunch with refreshments will be provided from 12.45, the presentation will begin at 1pm.

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When and where

12.45pm - 2.00pmMonday 15th January 2018

MG26 Myddelton Street Building City, University of London 1 Myddelton Street London EC1R 1UW United Kingdom

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