The verbalization of emotions in children with a language impairment - an exploratory study
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The present study discusses the difficulties that children with a language impairment can have with the verbal expression of their emotions as this is often observed but has never been examined. A literature review will give important background on the characteristics of children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) and on research within the field of emotions, in particular concerning the verbalization of emotions. The exploratory research that follows will bring these two topics together. Two groups of children with a language disorder were studied, differing with respect to whether they could verbalize their emotions. The two groups were compared on many variables, including, most importantly, language profile, social contact and the suspicion of an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The results showed that the group with children that had difficulties with the verbalization of emotions was more pragmatically impaired and had poorer social contact compared to the group with children that did not have difficulties with the verbalization of emotions. Moreover, many children that had problems with the verbal expression of their emotions showed features that led professionals working with the children to suspect ASD. These results led to the prediction that children with SLI that have difficulties with the verbalization of their emotions will have a broad range of problems, including social-emotional and behavioural difficulties. Implications for the relation between SLI and ASD are discussed as well as suggestions for future research.