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Social Cognition in Adolescents with Developmental Language Disorder

Forrest, C.L., Lloyd-Esenkaya, V., Gibson, J.L. et al. Social Cognition in Adolescents with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD): Evidence from the Social Attribution Task. J Autism Dev Disord (2022).

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Key terms that are in this paper:

  • Social cognition: the ability to process, store, and apply information about other people and social situations.

  • Social Attribution Task: used to measure people’s social skills

Aim of the paper:

Research has shown that individuals with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) are also more likely to have social and emotional problems. To deal with social situations, people must learn to interpret others’ thoughts and feelings. This is an example of social cognition. Social cognition skills have been linked with language abilities. This means that individuals with DLD may present social and emotional difficulties if they have limited social cognition skills. Using the Social Attribution Task, this study examined whether social cognition abilities are related to social and emotional difficulties in adolescents with DLD.

What was found?

  • People with DLD achieved lower scores on the Social Attribution Task than individuals with typical development. They also reported higher peer and emotional problems.

  • While participants with DLD demonstrated poorer social cognition skills, their performance on the Social Attribution Task was not associated with social, emotional, and behavioural difficulties.

What does this mean?

Difficulties demonstrated by the Social Attribution Task (such as a difficulty describing people’s personality or identifying their emotions) may indicate that adolescents with DLD have trouble understanding and participating in social interactions. However, the difficulties of adolescents with DLD in this study were specific to their abilities to identify emotions. For example, they had no difficulty identifying other broader concepts like wants or beliefs. This could be because emotions are often abstract and expressed through complicated language structures.

The results suggest that poor social cognition may not be the reason why individuals with DLD have social and emotional difficulties. Instead, these difficulties may be linked with other factors, such as how individuals with DLD are treated by others. For example, are they treated with respect? Are their emotional needs met. If not, this may cause difficulties in social and emotional areas for individuals with DLD. Social cognition of individuals with DLD needs to be studied further. This could help understand better what support these people need the most.

Where can I read this paper?

This paper is open access, and you can find it by following the link:


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