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Behavioral/emotional profiles of preschool language-impaired children

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 October 2008

Paula Tallal*
Affiliation:
Center for Molecular Behavioral Neurosciences, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ
Dianne Dukette
Affiliation:
Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego
Susan Curtiss
Affiliation:
Department of Linguistics, University of California, Los Angeles
*
Reprint requests should be sent to: Paula Tallal, Ph.D., Co-Director, Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neurosciences, 305 Boyden Hall, Rutgers University, 195 University Ave., Newark, NJ 07102.

Abstract

Previous research has suggested that language-impaired (LI) children have a high prevalence of psychiatric disorders, and conversely, that children being treated for psychiatric disorders have a high incidence of language impairment. To investigate the relationship between developmental language and psychiatric disorders further, the behavioral and emotional status of a large, well-defined group of preschool-age LI and matched control children were evaluated using the Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Based on parent report, data were analyzed for broad- as well as narrow-band syndromes. For the broad-band syndromes, results demonstrated significant between-group differences for boys, but not girls. However, for the narrow-band syndromes, unexpectedly few significant between-group differences were found for boys or girls. Only the Immaturity scale for boys and Social Withdrawal scale for girls proved significantly different between groups. Inspection of the items that comprised these two scales revealed a high prevalence of items which relate to attention, perception, and motor functions. As previous research with LI children has demonstrated that highly significant perceptual/motor disorders characterize this population, additional analyses were performed to determine the extent to which attention, perception, and motor items on the CBCL contributed to the significant group differences found. When items classified as assessing attention, perception, or motor functioning were excluded, few significant between-group differences remained. Subsequent analyses demonstrated a high correlation between the CBCL items classified as assessing attention, perception, or motor functions and the performance of LI and normal children on a battery of non-verbal attention, perception, and motor tasks. These results suggest that psychiatric disorders previously identified in LI children may be related primarily to specific neurodevelopmental delay in perceptual/motor functioning.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1989

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