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Children and Adolescents with Emotional and Behavioural Disorders and Speech and Language Impairment: Incidence, Nature and Intervention [PhD Thesis]

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Helen StringerORCiD


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The relationship between language impairment (LI) and behaviour disorders is well established. This thesis has three main aims: to explore the incidence of LI in populations of children with behaviour difficulties; to describe the nature of those difficulties and to describe two speech and language therapy interventions with young people with LI and co-occurring behaviour problems. This thesis adds to the existing literature in all three areas. Three incidence studies are presented. A sample of young people in Year Seven of an inner-city secondary school is described as a context for other population studies. Assessment in a special school for children with emotional and behavioural disorder (EBD) revealed an incidence of LI of 74%. A further investigation with a group of adolescents with sexually abusive behaviour revealed an incidence of LI of 78%. This was the first study of its nature. In all three populations there was a high rate of under-identification of LI. These findings reflect and add to the existing literature. The nature of the language impairment in individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and with EBD/non-ADHD was investigated. No difference was found in the type of LI in these two groups. This is in contrast to existing literature which documents the language of individuals with ADHD and normal controls. A difference between sentence and single word processing was found. Receptive language skills were superior at sentence level, whereas expressive language skills were better at word level. This was the first natural history study of this population. These findings add to the existing literature, which lacks specificity in this area. Intervention following a cognitive neuropsychological model with a boy with ADHD is described. Follow-up at age 16 demonstrated the success of the intervention but raised questions as to the role of receptive vocabulary in functional language. A second intervention, comprising narrative and social skills therapy, with groups of secondary age boys with LI and behaviour problems led to significant improvements on standardised measures of receptive and expressive language. These studies add to the evidence as to the effectiveness of speech and language therapy interventions.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Stringer H

Publication type: Authored Book

Publication status: Published

Year: 2004

Number of Pages: 351

Publisher: School of Education, Communcation and Language Sciences, Newcastle University

Place Published: Newcastle upon Tyne