INT. J. LANG. COMM. DIS., JULY –AUGUST VOL.
45, NO. 4, 397–410
Research Report Pragmatic language and the child with emotional/behavioural difﬁculties (EBD): a pilot study exploring the interaction between behaviour and communication disability
Leila Mackie and James Law
Centre for Integrated Healthcare Research, Queen Margaret University, Musselburgh, UK
(Received 8 September 2008; accepted 8 June 2009)
Introduction: The relationship between mental health, behaviour and language development is widely recognized in the literature. Recent advances in assessment tools allows one to consider the role of pragmatic language skills in this co-occurrence. Aims: This pilot study aimed to investigate (1) the level of association between pragmatic language difﬁculties and emotional/behavioural difﬁculties; and (2) what explanations there might there be for any such association. The roles of language, word decoding, and non-verbal cognitive ability and also socio-demographic factors are considered. Method & Procedures: Seventeen participants aged 7–11 years were identiﬁed from Educational Psychologist caseloads as having behaviour that is causing concern at school. Comparisons were made with 16 age- and sex-matched controls. Participants’ language, literacy and non-verbal cognitive ability were assessed at school. Parents and teachers completed questionnaires investigating communication skills, behaviour and emotional wellbeing. Outcomes & Results: No signiﬁcant difference was found between the groups for non-verbal cognitive ability. However, children in the referred group were signiﬁcantly more likely to have structural language, word decoding and pragmatic language difﬁculties and mothers with no further education beyond school. Taking a broad view of language skills to include structural language, pragmatic language and word decoding, 94% (n ¼ 15) of referred children had signiﬁcant difﬁculties with at least one of these three factors. The...