Executive functioning, communicative competence, and behaviour disorders in students with different types of impairment.


In this study, socio-emotional problems of deaf or hard-of-hearing, blind or visually impaired school-aged students as well as students with intellectual impairment are discussed in the context of executive functioning and communicative competence. Executive functions were assessed for a sample of 700 students by their teachers with a German version of the ‘Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Functions (BRIEF-D)’, 436 of them attended a school for special needs, 264 a general school. In addition, a questionnaire measuring communicative competence was administered as well as a questionnaire on socio-emotional problems (German version of the ‘Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire’; SDQ-D). The results show a significantly higher rate of problems in developing executive functions for all scales compared to students without a disability. The three groups of deaf, visually impaired, and mentally handicapped children differed significantly from each other in their executive functioning. Moreover, children from integrative school settings had fewer problems in executive functioning than children from special needs schools. A regression analysis revealed the important contribution of executive functions, in particular behaviour regulation competencies, and communicative competence to socio- emotional functioning. The relevance of the findings for educational work, especially concerning inclusive schools, is discussed. The results suggest that an early intervention concerning executive competencies would be reasonable in order to prevent behaviour difficulties.