Withdrawn and sociable behavior of children with language impairment

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This study examined the dimensions of withdrawal and sociability in children with language impairment (LI) and their typically developing chronological age-matched peers. Classroom teachers rated the withdrawn and sociable behaviors of 41 children with LI and 41 typically developing peers using the Teacher Behavioral Rating Scale (TBRS, Hart & Robinson, 1996). Children were sampled from the age ranges of 5 to 8 years and 10 to 13 years. Subtypes of both withdrawn (solitary-passive withdrawal, solitary-active withdrawal, reticence) and sociable (impulse control/likability, prosocial) behavior were examined. Teachers rated children with LI as displaying higher levels of reticent behavior than typically developing children. Teachers also rated boys with LI as displaying significantly higher levels of solitary-active withdrawal than girls with LI or typically developing children of either gender. The groups did not differ on solitary-passive withdrawal, although boys were rated higher than girls. In the dimension of sociable behavior, children with LI were rated significantly below typical peers on subtypes of impulse control/likability and prosocial behavior. The relationship between language impairment and withdrawn and sociable behavior is complex. Although language impairment is an important factor in social difficulty, the current results suggest that language impairment is not the sole factor leading to social problems in children with LI. Assessment and intervention procedures for children with language and social problems should take the complex nature of this relationship into account.

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Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools

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