DLD and Prosocial Behaviour

Toseeb, U., & St Clair, M. C. (2020). Trajectories of prosociality from early to middle childhood in children at risk of Developmental Language Disorder. Journal of Communication Disorders, 85.

Aim of the paper:

Our aim was to look at how children with DLD develop prosocial skills and compare their prosocial skill development to children without DLD. We looked at how prosocial skills developed from age 5 to 11. We then looked at social, behavioural and emotional outcomes at age 11 in children with DLD. We looked at these outcomes when considering different types of prosocial development in childhood.

What was found:

Children with DLD had slightly lower prosocial skills at age 5, 7 and 11 years old. This was when compared to children without DLD.

We found four groups of children with different prosocial development paths from age 5 to 11. Group 1 (18% of all children) had high prosocial skills across childhood. Group 2 (35% of all children) had a stable level of prosocial skills across development, but at a lower level. Group 3 (6% of all children) had high levels of prosocial skills early in childhood, but these reduced in middle and late childhood. Group 4 (41% of all children) had lower prosocial skills early childhood, but these increased to middle and later childhood.

Children with DLD were more likely to be in the “stable low” group (Group 2) and less likely to be in the group with high prosocial skills (Group 1) across development. Children with DLD were no more or less likely to be part of the other two groups.

Individuals with DLD who were in the groups that had lower prosocial skills at age 11 (Groups 2 and 3) had more emotional, peer, conduct and hyperactivity problems at age 11.

What does this mean?

Prosocial skills are a relative strength in individuals with DLD. There was only a very small difference in prosocial skills at each time point. The most important finding from this study is that emerging prosocial behaviours are just as helpful in reducing peer, behavioural and emotional difficulties. Both groups who had high prosocial skills at age 11 had better peer, behavioural and emotional outcomes than the groups with lower prosocial skills at age 11. Parents and teachers should encourage prosocial behaviours (helping others, being kind) in children with DLD. Even if children struggle with prosocial behaviours in early childhood, these prosocial behaviours can develop if encouraged by parents and teachers. This paper shows these prosocial behaviours can be protective against other difficulties.

Where can I read this paper?

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it. Please click here to find the full paper.