Over the years we have reported in several studies that delayed language development and language disorder at an early age signals a risk of ESSENCE difficulties and have shown that overlapping between language disorder and ESSENCE in school age occurs in more than half of all children with delayed speech development according to screening at the CHC at 2.5 years of age.
In the AUDIE project (AUtism Detection and Intervention in Early life) which was a collaboration between CNC, CHC, and habilitation centers in Gothenburg in 2009-2011, all 2.5-year-old children were screened for both language and autism at the same visit to their CHC. More than 100 children were detected and diagnosed as having ASD. These same children were furthermore followed up at the age of 5 and 8 years with the focus on studying diagnostic stability. The project shows that the majority of those who had ASD at 2.5 years of age still had their diagnosis at follow-up.
In another study, we examined ESSENCE in school children who either been identified in just language screening (and therefore were referred to the speech and language pathologist) or the autism screening (resulting in a referral to the neuropsychiatry team examination). We found that 5 years later, 40% of all children had one or more additional ESSENCE symptoms/diagnoses than they were originally diagnosed with.
In a previous doctoral project, we were interested in studying the language skills of the children in the AUDIE project with data from 3, 5 and 8 years of age. The main result was that there were clear links between the child's spoken language development and reading comprehension at 8 years of age. Clear residual difficulties also existed with oral narration.
A Stockholm-based project demonstrated that children with autism have similar language difficulties as children with language disorder. In a follow-up study with the same group of children, we were able to establish the same conclusion regarding the children's reading and writing difficulties.
In some qualitative studies, we have also focused on the parents' experiences of the neuropsychiatric investigation process, the preschool's efforts, and society's support. Several parents expressed that they feel satisfied with the neuropsychiatric investigation but afterwards they felt left to their own devices and were without help.
In all studies, in-depth psychiatric, speech therapy, psychological and education examinations were made of the groups at preschool-age.