The behaviour of young children with social communication disorders during dyadic interaction with peers
social communication disorders
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AbstractChildren with social communication disorders are known to experience more problematic peer relations than typically-developing children. However, detailed observation of their behaviour and communication during interaction with peers has not previously been undertaken. Micro-analytic observational methods were used to analyse the audio-taped interaction of children (N = 112) selected from mainstream schools (ages 5-6 years-old) on a computerised dyadic collaborative task. Comparisons were made between children with average-to-high- and low-pragmatic language skill as measured by the Test of Pragmatic Skills. Dyads were composed of an average-to-high-skilled child plus a low-skilled child (32 dyads), or of two average-to-high-skilled children (24 dyads). Consistently with their pragmatic language scores, low-skilled children were more likely to ignore other children's questions and requests than were average-to-high-skilled children. When average-to-high-skilled children worked with low-skilled children, as opposed to with other average-to-high-skilled children, they showed some sensitivity and adaptation to these children's difficulties; they used significantly more directives, clarification and provided more information. However, there was a cost in terms of the emotional tone of these interactions; when working with low-skilled children, the average-to-high-skilled children expressed considerably more negative feelings towards their partners than with another average-to-high-skilled child. In conclusion, observation of the interaction of average-to-high- and low-skilled children suggests promise for peer-assisted interventions and specifies which communicative behaviours could be targeted. However, care should be taken to manage the affective climate of these interactions for the benefit of all children involved.
CitationMurphy, S., Faulkner, D., Farley, L. (2014) 'The behaviour of young children with social communication disorders during dyadic interaction with peers' J Abnorm Child Psychol 42 (2):277-89
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