What are the peer interaction strengths and difficulties in children with developmental language disorder? A systematic review

Vanessa Lloyd-Esenkaya, Ailsa J. Russell, Michelle C. St Clair

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Citations (SciVal)


The current review gathers together research investigating peer interaction skills in children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) to give an overview of the strengths and challenges experienced by these children when interacting with other children. A systematic review was conducted to summarise the literature on peer interaction strengths and difficulties in children with DLD. No restrictions on time-period were made and the selection criteria accounted for many of the diagnostic labels previously used to refer to DLD. Studies included in this review involve English-speaking children of UK primary school age (4–11 years). A systematic search of databases identified 28 papers that met the inclusion criteria. Children with DLD are found to experience many challenges when interacting with peers. Difficulties have been found in studies exploring discourse characteristics such as turn-taking and in behaviours during play, such as access behaviours. Heterogeneity was however notable and peer interaction strengths are found in terms of the children’s abilities to make friends, use verbal and non-verbal behaviour to make joint decisions with peers, and abilities to engage with peers in social pretend play. While it is encouraging to find research exploring many different areas of peer interaction competence in children with DLD, the research is highly disparate and there are many research findings awaiting replication. The current evidence base is unable to comprehensively define the characteristics of peer interactions of children with DLD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3140
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number9
Early online date30 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


  • Developmental language disorder
  • Peer interaction
  • Social skills
  • Systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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