Psychosocial Adjustment, Emotion Understanding, and Emotion Regulation in Young Children with Nonverbal Learning Disabilities

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Barton, Veronica
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This study compared 10 children between the ages of six and nine identified as having Nonverbal Learning Disabilities (NLD) and ten normally achieving controls in terms of their psychosocial functioning, emotion understanding, and emotion regulation. Parents completed scales assessing participants’ level of social, emotional, and behavioural competence, and emotion regulation. Children’s recognition of basic emotions (happiness, sadness, anger, and fearfulness) was assessed through nonverbal channels (pictures of facial expressions, postures, and tone of voice). Children’s understanding of simultaneously experiencing two conflicting emotions (mixed emotions) and ways to express emotions (display rules) were assessed through vignettes that depicted social situations. The results indicated that parents of children with NLD, compared to children without NLD, rated their children significantly higher on scales of internalizing (i.e., Affective and Anxiety Problems) and externalizing (i.e., Attention/Hyperactivity and Oppositional Defiant Disorder Problems) difficulties, and significantly lower on a scale of emotion regulation. Compared to children without NLD, children with NLD were significantly less accurate in identifying happiness through facial expression, but not through tone of voice or posture. On the vignettes, children with NLD demonstrated significantly poorer performance on identifying mixed emotions, but not display rules, compared to children without NLD. These results help to delineate the psychosocial profile of young children with nonverbal learning disabilities.
Nonverbal learning disabilities , Learning disabled children -- Psychology , Adjustment (Psychology)