We explored the prevalence of a positive family history of speech and language impairment in African American children as a function of their socioeconomic status (SES), receipt of speech–language services, and diagnosis of specific language impairment (SLI).
Data were collected in 2 phases. Phase 1 included family questionnaires from 161 kindergartners. Phase 2 included interviews with the primary caregivers of 17 of these kindergartners.
Overall, the prevalence of a positive family history was 24%. Children receiving services did not present a higher rate of positive family history than children not receiving services, but low-SES children were 2 times more likely than middle-SES children to present positive family histories. Children with SLI were also 2 times more likely to present a positive family history than children with typical development, and after controlling for SES, elevated rates of a positive family history for those with SLI remained.
Results support studies that have found higher rates of positive family history in children with SLI relative to controls while also highlighting SES as an important variable to consider within family history studies. These findings call for careful consideration of family history and SES information when assessing African American children.