Many parents ask themselves: Will my child with SLI grow up to have friends?
Friendships are an important part of human development We can share our views, thoughts and feelings with friends Friends can provide companionship and can be a source of support
We know that children with SLI are sociable They want to interact with peers and have friends We also know that most children with SLI are pro-social They are helpful and considerate to others
But, we also know that some children with SLI are not so readily accepted by peers They may not be so popular
Not much is known about friendships when children with SLI grow up and become adolescents This motivated us to carry out a study of friendships in teenagers with SLI
Participants in the Manchester Language Study 120 16-year-olds with 118 typically developing SLI (TD) 16-year-olds
Friendships Example questions: What is special about friends? What does being a friend mean? What is different about a friend? Would you ever confide in a friend about how you are feeling or if you are worried?
Findings Adolescents with SLI Typically developing (TD) adolescents Considerable diversity in Most TD adolescents friendships in have good quality of adolescents with SLI friendships
100 80 60 40 20 0 TD SLI% reporting having one or more friends with shared interests
We identified a group of adolescents with SLI with good friendships (n = 65) And a group of adolescents with SLI with poor friendships (n = 44).
88 87 86 85 84 83 Receptive 82 81 80 Good Poor Friendships Friendships16-year-olds with Good or Poor Friendships:Scores on Receptive language (TROG) at age 7 years
Patterns remained consistent at 11 years And at 16 years Relatively low language ability, particularly receptive language, appears to be a continuous characteristic of poor friendship quality in SLI
Adolescents with SLI are more likely to experience peer problems/lack of friendships Language abilities in childhood bear on friendship quality through to adolescence
But the good news … Language problems are not a guarantee of social problems Children with SLI are varied in terms of their language characteristics - and their social abilities, too Some children and adolescents with SLI achieve high levels of peer popularity 60% of adolescents with SLI in our study had reported friendship quality in the good range
What can we do?Training, Facilitation, Fostering adaptation Training to support the development of social uses of language, social skills and social self-esteem Facilitation of peer relationships, friendship formation and maintenance Foster the development of positive adaptive/compensatory strategies Self awareness: To know when to seek help/support
References Clegg, J., Hollis, C., Mawhood, L., & Rutter, M. (2005). Developmental language disorders – a follow-up in later adult life. Cognitive, language and psychosocial outcomes. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46, 128-149. Durkin, K. & Conti-Ramsden, G. (2007) Language, social behaviour and the quality of friendships in adolescents with and without a history of specific language impairment. Child Development, 78, 1441-1457. Fujiki, M., Brinton, B. Hart, C., & Fitzgerald, A. H. (1999). Peer acceptance and friendship in children with specific language impairment. Topics in Language Disorders, 19, 34-48. Fujiki, M., Brinton, B., Isaacson, T., & Summers, C. (2001). Social behaviors of children with language impairment on the playground: A pilot study. Language, Speech and Hearing Services in Schools, 32, 101-113.