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Discourse processes underlying social competence in children with language learning disabilities

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 March 1997

C. M. Hincks Treatment Centre/Institute, University of Toronto, Department of Psychiatry
York University


Children with both a language impairment and a learning disability are at risk for poor social competence. Yet the processes that place these children at risk remain unclear. A developmental–organizational perspective was used to explore processes underlying risk for poor social competence among language learning disabled children. To this end, the relative influences of language learning disability and social discourse skills on social competence were examined in 50 language learning disabled (LLD) and 50 control (non-LLD) children aged 8–12 years. Findings indicated that social discourse skills mediated the relation between LLD status and children's social competence. Specifically, a domain of social discourse, figurative language, was the strongest mediator of the effect of LLD status on social competence. Additionally, differences were confirmed between the LLD and non-LLD group in two domains of social discourse, recreating sentences and figurative language, as well as social competence. Two other domains of social discourse, understanding ambiguous sentences and making inferences, did not discriminate the groups. The findings emphasize the importance of analyzing interrelations among domains to identify critical factors related to developmental outcomes.

Research Article
© 1997 Cambridge University Press

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