Wenche A. Helland (Ph.d. project)
Communication difficulties in children identified with psychiatric problems
Several studies have pointed to an overlap between different developmental psychopathological conditions and language impairments, and difficulties with communication have been identified in children of various diagnostic backgrounds. This thesis is based on three empirical studies, and the purposes are to investigate communication difficulties as reported by parents, in children identified with psychiatric problems as well as to evaluate a Norwegian adaptation of the Children’s Communication Checklist (CCC) and the Children’s Communication Checklist Second Edition (CCC-2), assessment tools, sensitive to various aspects of language.
The first study showed that pragmatic language impairments were more prevalent in a group of children referred to child psychiatric services than in a comparison group of typically developing children (57 % versus 10 %). The second study showed that the Norwegian adaptation of the CCC-2 distinguished language impaired from non-language impaired children, and thus seems to be useful as assessment tool for communication difficulties in Norwegian children. The third study found that communication difficulties were as common in a group of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) as in a group of children with Asperger syndrome (AS). Although almost identical patterns appeared on most CCC-2 scales, children with AD/HD and children with AS differed in terms of their language profiles on the subscales assessing stereotyped language and nonverbal communication. The results of the present thesis indicate that a majority of children identified with psychiatric problems exhibit communication difficulties. The impact of communication functioning on therapeutic outcomes underline the importance of systematic examination of communication to be performed as part of the assessment procedure.
Head of project: Associate professor II / researcher Wenche Andersen Helland, Department of Medical and Biological Psychology, University of Bergen/ Helse Fonna/ Statped Vest