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Parent and Teacher views of peer relationships in children with Language Disorders

Lloyd-Esenkaya, V., Forrest, C. L., Jordan, A., Russell, A. J., & Clair, M. C. S. (2021). What is the nature of peer interactions in children with language disorders? A qualitative study of parent and practitioner views. Autism & Developmental Language Impairments.

Aim of paper:

This study aimed to hear from parents and school staff what they noticed about the ways that children with Language Disorders (LDs) interact socially. Focus groups were conducted with school staff and parents of children (4 - 12 years) with LDs attending specialist schools.

What they found:

Socialising was an area of considerable difficulty for many of the children with LDs attending specialist schools. Many parents worried about this.

Underlying reasons for children’s peer interaction problems included challenges resolving social conflicts, problems understanding other’s emotions, difficulties regulating emotions and challenges associated with understanding other people’s intentions.

This study found evidence of possible coping mechanisms:

  • School staff explained that some children avoid socialising at playtime because they use that time for processing information. Possibly, children with LDs disengage from peers to avoid language processing.

  • Children with LDs find social situations unpredictable. To manage this uncertainty, some children with LDs were said to enforce a structure on their social interactions. This could be by directing the topic of conversation or by controlling the way games play out.

What does this mean:

Clinicians and schools should be made aware of that social situations can be hard for children with LDs to understand. Children with LDs might have difficulties accessing play if they do not understand the rules of playtime games. Schools should provide playground support for children with LDs. Schools could help children to understand common social situations through using visual resources or role play.

Also, this study suggests children with LDs might have difficulties understanding other’s emotions, and regulating their emotions, which may negatively impact on their social interactions. Future social skills interventions for children with LDs, such as Developmental Language Disorder, may need to include a focus on emotional functioning. The authors call for more research to explore the link between emotion understanding and social skills among children with LDs who attend mainstream schools.

Where can I read this paper:

This paper is open access. View the full article here.


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