Here is the abstract from Louise Bulman’s final year research project, supervised by Dr Cristina McKean and Ana Trebacz (Post Graduate Research student)
Factors Influencing The Functional Communication Skills of Pre-School Children with Language Difficulties: How Does Socio-Emotional-Behavioural and Language Profiles Interact With Functional Communication?
Background: Functional communication is now a vital part of diagnosing developmental language delay (DLD). Currently there is a lack of research into the factors that may impact functional communication, which leaves professionals unable to identify children that may be at risk of experiencing functional communication difficulties, which could lead to a diagnosis of DLD.
Aims: The aim of the current study is to identify how socio-emotional-behavioural (SEB) difficulties impact on functional communication in pre-school age children, and if there are differences in functional communication between children with differing language profiles (expressive, receptive or mixed).
Methods & Procedures: The current cross-sectional observation study is nested within a larger therapy efficacy study, where 27 participants were recruited from schools (matched based on socio-economic-status), with expressive, receptive or mixed language difficulty profiles. Functional communication and SEB difficulties were measured, and analysed using correlations and statistical analysis.
Outcomes & Results: Significant correlations were found between (teacher reported) SEB difficulties and (teacher and parent reported) internalising difficulties with functional communication. Indicating that higher overall SEB difficulties and internalising difficulties are associated with poorer functional communication. No significant difference was found between children with differing language profiles on functional communication.
Conclusions & Implications: The findings give preliminary evidence to suggest that SEB, with particular strength to internalising difficulties are associated with poorer functional communication outcomes. Additionally, no evidence was found to suggest that functional communication is impacted by an expressive, receptive or mixed language difficulty profile.
Keywords: Functional Communication, Developmental Language Disorder, Socio-emotional-behavioural difficulties, expressive-receptive language