Emotional and behavioural needs in children with specific language impairment and in children with autism spectrum disorder: The importance of pragmatic language impairment.


BACKGROUND: Language problems may negatively affect children’s behaviour and have detrimental effects on the development of peer-relations. AIMS: We investigated and compared emotional and behavioural profiles in children with SLI and in children with ASD aged 6-15 years and explored to what extent pragmatic language problems contributed to the emotional and behavioural needs (EBN) in these clinical groups. METHODS AND PROCEDURES: The ASD group consisted of 23 children (19 boys; 4 girls) and the SLI group consisted of 20 children (18 boys; 2 girls). In order to assess EBN and language abilities, the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and the Children’s Communication Checklist -2 (CCC-2) were filled out by parents. OUTCOMES AND RESULTS: Our main findings were that although EBN was common in both groups; the children in the ASD group were significantly impaired relative to the children in the SLI group. However, in both groups pragmatic language problems were found to be significantly associated with EBN. IMPLICATIONS: A comprehensive assessment of EBN as well as pragmatic language abilities should be an integral part of the assessment procedure. Considering the substantial influence of pragmatic language abilities on social function and in resolving interpersonal conflicts with peers further development of therapy plans and interventions targeting pragmatics is strongly needed.