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Emotional and behavioural problems in children with language impairments and children with autism spectrum disorders

Charman, Tony and Ricketts, Jessie and Dockrell, Julie and Lindsay, Geoff and Palikara, Olympia (2014) Emotional and behavioural problems in children with language impairments and children with autism spectrum disorders. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders. ISSN 1368-2822. DOI UNSPECIFIED

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Abstract

Background: Although it is well-established that children with language impairment (LI) and children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) both show elevated levels of emotional and behavioural problems, the level and types of difficulties across the two groups have not previously been directly compared. Aims: To compare levels of emotional and behavioural problems in children with LI and children with ASD recruited from the same mainstream schools. Methods & Procedures: We measured teacher-reported emotional and behavioural problems using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) in a sample of 5–13-year-old children with LI (N = 62) and children with ASD (N = 42) attending mainstream school but with identified special educational needs. Outcomes&Results: Both groups showed similarly elevated levels of emotional, conduct and hyperactivity problems. The only differences between the LI and ASD groups were on subscales assessing peer problems (which were higher in the ASD group) and prosocial behaviours (which were higher in the LI group). Overall, there were few associations between emotional and behavioural problems and child characteristics, reflecting the pervasive nature of these difficulties in children with LI and children with ASD, although levels of problems were higher in children with ASD with lower language ability. However, in the ASD group only, a measure of family social economic status was associated with language ability and attenuated the association between language ability and emotional and behavioural problems. Conclusions & Implications: Children with LI and children with ASD in mainstream school show similarly elevated levels of emotional and behavioural problems, which require monitoring and may benefit from intervention. Further work is required to identify the child, family and situational factors that place children with LI and children with ASD at risk of emotional and behavioural problems, and whether these differ between the two groups. This work can then guide the application of evidence-based interventions to these children.

Item Type: Article
Depositing User: Atira Pure
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2014 08:26
Last Modified: 29 Jan 2015 09:12
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