Language Disorder

Reviewers for their newest scholarly paper, “Developmental Language Disorder: The Childhood Condition We Need to Talk About,” are ages 8, 10 and 13. When not reviewing science papers for Frontiers for Young Minds; young Amelie feeds elderly elephants in Thailand, while co-reviewers Ari and Elliot describe themselves as “book hounds and lifelong neighbors.”

While they expect to see scientists publishing in journals aim at peers; a pair of Western researchers recently targeted a younger audience for their work a lot younger. Researches for Young Minds is an open-access science journal written for kids; review and edit by kids. Recent articles included an exploration of star formation; innovations in brain-computer interface and parenting in invertebrate animals.

Developmental language disorder

“The researchers got caught up in our own jargon, our own terminology. It’s good to hear someone say, “However, this doesn’t make sense. This is above our vocabulary or understanding.”” Papers for the publication are all written by academic researchers; and follow scientific method, including abstract; conflict-of-interest statement, references and citations.

“It is just a bit more reader-friendly, more accessible than traditional science journals,” said Kuiack, a masters/Ph.D. student in Clinical Sciences in Speech Language Pathology/Speech Science. But people with developmental language disorder (DLD) struggle to learn and understand oral and written communication; despite their normal or above-normal intelligence.

However, the vocabulary and grammar fall below their classmates with the result; that they have difficulty grasping new material if it’s taught in conventional ways, or showing in written form what they learn. DLD is a relatively recent term, having endorsed in 2017; by a panel of experts out of concern that a wide range of alternate terminologies; was hampering diagnosis and treatment.

Equipping kids about their disorder

That is one reason Kuiack and Archibald want to reach younger readers. “DLD is very common. If your class, made up of 28 students; there would be about two students in your class with DLD,” the article explains. The article identifies what the disorder is, who has it and how children; their families and teachers can work through it.

“It is so important to give kids this information because kids really aren’t hearing it in their classrooms; even though they almost certainly have classmates with DLD,” Kuiack said. Added Archibald, “Equipping kids about their disorder is an important piece. Kids really need to be self-advocates, especially as they get older.” Writing science for younger readers also helps; researchers hone their thoughts and communicate research clearly for a broader range of audiences, Archibald said.

“It offers our students important practice in different kinds of writing.” Kuiack said the review process was similar to that of other journals; with questions and suggestions shared among reviewers and authors through a message board. She found the process all positive and said it’s encouraging to be part of a journal that inspires a new generation of scientists.