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Sources of variability in the prospective relation of language to social, emotional, and behavior problem symptoms: Implications for developmental language disorder

Goh, SKY; Griffiths, S; Norbury, CF; SCALES Team, .; (2021) Sources of variability in the prospective relation of language to social, emotional, and behavior problem symptoms: Implications for developmental language disorder. Journal of Abnormal Psychology , 130 (6) pp. 676-689. 10.1037/abn0000691. Green open access

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Abstract

Children with developmental language disorder (DLD) are at risk for social, emotional, and behavioral (SEB) maladjustment throughout development, though it is unclear if poor language proficiency per se can account for this risk as associations between language and SEB appear more variable among typical-language children. This study investigated whether the relationship between language and SEB problems is stronger at very low levels of language and considered confounders including socioeconomic status, sex, and nonverbal intelligence. These were examined using a population-based survey design, including children with a wide range of language and cognitive profiles, and assessed using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and six standardized language measures (n = 363, weighted n = 6,451). Structural equation models adjusted for prior levels of SEB revealed that the relationship of language at age 5–6 years to SEB at 7–9 years was nonlinear. Language more strongly predicted all clusters of SEB at disordered language levels relative to typical language levels, with standardized betas of −.25 versus .03 for behavioral, −.31 versus −.04 for peer, and .27 versus .03 for prosocial problems. Wald tests between these pairs of betas yielded p values from .049 to .014. Sex moderated the nonlinear association between language and emotional symptoms. These findings indicate a clinical need to support language development in order to mitigate against problems of SEB and to carefully monitor the mental health needs of children with DLD, particularly in the context of multiple, and potentially sex-specific, risks.

Type: Article
Title: Sources of variability in the prospective relation of language to social, emotional, and behavior problem symptoms: Implications for developmental language disorder
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1037/abn0000691
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/abn0000691
Language: English
Additional information: This article has been published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/ 3.0/).
Keywords: language disorder, emotional problems, behavioral problems, peer problems, prospective cohort
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Language and Cognition
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10135830
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