Adversity effects on nonword repetition skills: A proxy measure of language and reading ability

Claire Selin, Yo Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Children exposed to adversity are at increased risk for underachievement in reading; however, how early that risk appears and the mechanisms underlying that risk are unclear. Objective: Identify whether individual variation in nonword repetition—a clinical indicator of language and reading ability—can be captured in early childhood (three- to five-years-old) and how various features of adversity exposure (e.g., dosage, severity) are associated with performance. Participants and setting: Community-based sample of children between the ages of three- and five-years-old who were exposed to significant adversity (n = 92) and living in a major Midwestern metropolitan area. Methods: Participants completed a nonword repetition task, and their parent completed a comprehensive adversity questionnaire to report on the child's cumulative lifetime adversity exposure. Results: Over a third of the participants (34.78 %) did not meet age expectations on the nonword repetition task; however, nonword repetition performance did not significantly associate with the features of the adverse experience (i.e., dosage, severity, frequency, chronicity). Conclusions: Risk for underachievement in reading appears early in the preschool years for children exposed to adversity; however, the underlying mechanisms remain unclear since the features of the children's adverse experiences did not associate with their performance. Implications for prevention and early identification within the learning context are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105919
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Aug 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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