Language Impairment and Psychopathology in Infants, Children, and Adolescents

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Nancy J. Cohen

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  • Developmental Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry Series

    Series Editor: Alan E. Kazdin, Yale Univdersity Recent volumes in this series …

    • 8: LIFE EVENTS AS STRESSORS IN CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENCE

      by James H. Johnson

    • 9: CONDUCT DISORDERS IN CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENCE, 2nd Ed.

      by Alan E. Kazdin

    • 10: CHILD ABUSE, 2nd. Ed.

      by David A. Wolfe

    • 11: PREVENTING MALADJUSTMENT FROM INFANCY THROUGH ADOLESCENCE

      by Annette U. Rickel and LaRue Allen

    • 12: TEMPERAMENT AND CHILD PSYCHOPATHOLOGY

      by William T. Garrison and Felton J. Earls

    • 13: EMPIRICALLY BASED ASSESSMENT OF CHILD AND ADOLESCENT PSYCHOPATHOLOGY, 2nd Ed.

      by Thomas M. Achenbach and Stephanie H. McConaughy

    • 14: MARRIAGE, DIVORCE, AND CHILDREN'S ADJUSTMENT, 2nd Ed.

      by Robert E. Emery

    • 15: AUTISM

      by Laura Schreibman

    • 18: DELINQUENCY IN ADOLESCENCE

      by Scott W. Henggeler

    • 19: CHRONIC ILLNESS DURING CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENCE

      by William T. Garrison and Susan McQuiston

    • 20: ANXIETY DISORDERS IN CHILDREN

      by Rachel G. Klein and Cynthia G. Last

    • 21: CHILDREN OF BATTERED WOMEN

      by Peter G. Jaffe, David A. Wolfe, and Susan Kaye Wilson

    • 22: SUBSTANCE ABUSE IN CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

      by Steven P. Schinke, Gilbert J. Botvin, and Mario A. Orlandi

    • 23: CHILD PSYCHIATRIC EPIDEMIOLOGY

      by Frank C. Verhulst and Hans M. Koot

    • 24: EATING AND GROWTH DISORDERS IN INFANTS AND CHILDREN

      by Joseph L. Woolston

    • 25: NEUROLOGICAL BASIS OF CHILDHOOD PSYCHOPATHOLOGY

      by George W. Hynd and Stephen R. Hooper

    • 26: ADOLESCENT SEXUAL BEHAVIOR AND CHILDBEARING

      by Laurie Schwab Zabin and Sarah C. Hayward

    • 27: EFFECTS OF PSYCHOTHERAPY WITH CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

      by John R. Weisz and Bahr Weiss

    • 28: BEHAVIOR AND DEVELOPMENT IN FRAGILE X SYNDROME

      by Elisabeth M. Dykens, Robert M. Hodapp, and James F. Leckman

    • 29: ATTENTION DEFICITS AND HYPERACTIVITY IN CHILDREN

      by Stephen P. Hinshaw

    • 30: LEARNING DISABILITIES

      by Byron P. Rourke and Jerel E. Del Dotto

    • 31: PEDIATRIC TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

      by Jeffrey H. Snow and Stephen R. Hooper

    • 32: FAMILIES, CHILDREN, AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF DYSFUNCTION

      by Mark R. Dadds

    • 33: ADOLESCENTS AND THE MEDIA

      by Victor C. Strasburger

    • 34: SCHOOL-BASED PREVENTION PROGRAMS FOR CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

      by Joseph A. Durlak

    • 35: CHILDHOOD OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER

      by Greta Francis and Rod A. Gragg

    • 36: TREATING CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS IN RESIDENTIAL AND INPATIENT SETTINGS

      by Robert D. Lyman and Nancy R. Campbell

    • 37: THE IMPACT OF FAMILY VIOLENCE ON CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

      by Javad H. Kashani and Wesley D. Allan

    • 38: CHILDREN'S ADJUSTMENT TO ADOPTION

      by David M. Brodzinsky, Daniel W. Smith, and Anne B. Brodzinsky

    • 39: MOTOR COORDINATION DISORDERS IN CHILDREN

      by David A. Sugden and Helen Wright

    • 40: CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE

      by David M. Fergusson and Paul E. Mullen

    • 41: POVERTY AND CHILDREN'S ADJUSTMENT

      by Suniya S. Luthar

    • 42: ALCOHOL USE AMONG ADOLESCENTS

      by Michael Windle

    • 43: CREATING HEALTH BEHAVIOR CHANGE

      by Cheryl L. Perry

    • 44: PSYCHOTIC DISORDERS IN CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

      by Robert L. Findling, S. Charles Schulz, Javad H. Kashani, and Elena Harlan

    • 45: LANGUAGE IMPAIRMENT AND PSYCHOPATHOLOGY IN INFANTS, CHILDREN, AND ADOLESCENTS

      by Nancy J. Cohen

    Copyright

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    Series Editor's Introduction

    Interest in child development and adjustment is by no means new. Yet only recently has the study of children benefited from advances in both clinical and scientific research. Advances in the social and biological sciences; the emergence of disciplines and subdisciplines that focus exclusively on childhood and adolescence; and greater appreciation of the impact of such influences as the family, peers, and school have helped accelerate research on developmental psychopathology. Apart from interest in the study of child development and adjustment for its own sake, the need to address clinical problems of adulthood naturally draws one to investigate precursors in childhood and adolescence.

    In a relatively brief period, the study of psychopathology among children and adolescents has proliferated considerably. Several different professional journals, annual book series, and handbooks devoted entirely to the study of children and adolescents and their adjustment document the proliferation of work in the field. Nevertheless, there is a paucity of resource material that presents information in an authoritative, systematic, and disseminable fashion. There is a need in the field to convey the latest developments and to represent different disciplines, approaches, and conceptual views to the topics of childhood and adolescent adjustment and maladjustment.

    The Sage Series Developmental Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry is designed to serve uniquely several needs of the field. The Series encompasses individual monographs prepared by experts in the fields of clinical child psychology, child psychiatry, child development, and related disciplines. The primary focus is on developmental psychopathology, which refers broadly here to the diagnosis, assessment, treatment, and prevention of problems that arise in the period from infancy through adolescence. A working assumption of the Series is that understanding, identifying, and treating problems of youths must draw on multiple disciplines and diverse views within a given discipline.

    The task for individual contributors is to present the latest theory and research on various topics, including specific types of dysfunction, diagnostic and treatment approaches, and special problem areas that affect adjustment. Core topics in clinical work are addressed by the Series. Authors are asked to bridge potential theory, research, and clinical practice and to outline the current status and future directions. The goals of the Series and the tasks presented to individual contributors are demanding. We have been extremely fortunate in recruiting leaders in the fields who have been able to translate their recognized scholarship and expertise into highly readable works on contemporary topics.

    In this book, Dr. Nancy Cohen examines language and communication impairment and its relation to psychopathology over the course of development. This is an enormously important topic. Perhaps the most significant and unrecognized aspect is that impairment in language and communication is highly related to social and emotional functioning. There have been advances in theory, research, and clinical application pertaining to language and communication, and these have remarkable implications for diagnosis, assessment, and intervention with psychiatric disorders as well as with child development more generally. Dr. Cohen provides an authoritative account of the types and range of language and communication impairments and of how language and communication relate to neurological functioning, attachment patterns, emotional regulation, academic achievement, and cognitive development. In addition, the interface of language problems with specific psychiatric diagnoses (e.g., Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is well covered. Assessment of language problems over the course of development is nicely detailed. Interventions are covered as well to convey precisely what can be done at different points in development. The advances outlined in this book convey the remarkable progress and critical implications for understanding child functioning. Dr. Cohen has contributed many of the major advances presented in this book. We are quite fortunate to have her evaluation of progress and critical issues.

    Alan E.Kazdin, PhD

    Preface

    I came to study the interface between language impairment and psychopathology in the late 1980s. Like those of many researchers, my ideas emerged from observation and clinical practice coupled with reading a pertinent article at a particular moment in time. This turning point occurred while I was carrying out research on the out come of treatment in a preschool day treatment program. All of the children who attended this program had to have a behavioral or emotional problem to be admitted. For some of the children, language, cognitive, or motor delays were among the reasons for referral. Other children were thought to be developing normally, but when observed by teachers in the intensive 5-day-per-week program, some of these children seemed to have difficulties communicating. Having the luxury of a speech-language pathologist on staff meant that an assessment could be done rapidly. If a language problem was identified, then both remedial help and an alteration in the classroom programming were initiated. Around the same time, a colleague working with adolescents in another intensive program also observed that after routine assessment many youths exhibited a high rate of language impairments and language learning disabilities that often had not been previously identified in the public schools.

    Our conversations were stimulated further by an article written by Gualtieri and colleagues (Gualtieri, Koriath, Van Bourgondien, & Saleeby, 1983), who found that when systematically examined, 50% of children in an inpatient unit had a language impairment that had not been identified until the research assessment was done. Many of these children had severe psychiatric problems, and some had subnormal intelligence. Therefore it seemed that 50% might be a high figure. Nevertheless, the article described exactly what my colleague and I had observed in both of the day treatment programs, and the idea of doing a pilot study emerged. We chose as the sample for our study children attending mental health clinics as outpatients because they represent the majority of children for whom such services are sought. That small pilot study showed that 33% of children referred solely for a social-emotional disorder had a language impairment that had not been suspected or identified previously (Cohen, Davine, & Meloche-Kelly, 1989). When combined with children whose language impairments had been identified, 50% of children aged 4 to 12 years were language impaired or had a language-related learning disability. This figure was the same as the one reported by Gualtieri et al. (1983) even though the children in our outpatient setting were not so severely disturbed. Since then, we have confirmed these general findings with larger samples (Cohen, Barwick, Horodezky, Vallance, & Im, 1998; Cohen, Davine, Horodezky, Lipsett, & Isaacson, 1993) as have other investigators in the field (Camarata, Hughes, & Ruhl, 1988; Kotsopoulos & Boodoosingh, 1987; Warr-Leeper, Wright, & Mack, 1994), and we have moved downward developmentally to look at preverbal communicative development in infants (Barwick, Cohen, Horodezky, & Lojkasek, 2000).

    The same period in the 1980s in which our research program began also witnessed a rapid growth in the understanding of language development, greater awareness of the high prevalence of language impairments in the population, and an increased availability of standardized tools to measure language development and disability. Speech-language pathologists became actively involved in research and clinical work in developmental language impairments and took a broader view of language to include communication disorders (Gallagher, 1999). Just as we had found that children referred for mental health services had problems with language, we also found that they had communication impairments represented by problems with pragmatic language skills and conversational discourse (Vallance, Im, & Cohen, 1999).

    Finding that many children in a mental health setting had unsuspected language and communication impairments was unsettling. For instance, at the time our research began in the 1980s, children with co-occurring language impairments and social-emotional problems, and especially children with behavioral problems, were routinely refused service by speechlanguage pathologists until their behavior problems had been corrected by a mental health practitioner. Similarly, in schools, when a multidisciplinary assessment revealed problems in language and learning that were coupled with behavioral problems, the decision often was made to place the child in a behavioral classroom rather than in a program for children with language-related difficulties. In cases where children were placed in specialized classrooms for language-related learning problems, mental health practitioners breathed a sigh of relief, believing that the language and learning problems were “taken care of.” They did not consider that the same difficulties in processing academic information were likely to apply to social and emotional information and therefore to influence therapy.

    That's history. Over the past decade, there has been increasing awareness that a large proportion of children who are attending speech-language clinics and who are enrolled in classrooms for children with communication and learning disabilities have social-emotional problems. Conversely, there is awareness that a large proportion of children who are referred for mental health services or who are enrolled in classrooms for children with socialemotional disorders have language impairments. The different routes to identification are, to some extent, determined by the vagaries and chance events that lead to any referral to one system or another. A clear direction for referral may be particularly uncertain in this case because it can be difficult to discern what is due to a social-emotional problem from what is due to a problem with language or communication. Therefore there is still cause for concern about the availability of much-needed integrated services. Clinicians and researchers are still struggling to determine how best to treat these co-occurring conditions, and genuine collaborations around service delivery are still rare. This book aims to bridge theory, research, and clinical practice for children in the period of infancy through adolescence. It is not intended to be a blueprint for assessing and treating children with language or communication impairments and social-emotional disorders but, rather, to provide the information that will assist professionals to take a thoughtful, analytical, and critical approach to service delivery. I hope that it will also stimulate further research. The focus is on children who do not have a diagnosis of general developmental delay or significant structural brain injury, autism, or pervasive developmental disorder. Moreover, the focus is on oral language rather than written text, although the latter will be discussed occasionally.

    Chapter 1 familiarizes the reader with the terminology of language and communication impairment and social-emotional disorder. An overview of the conditions associated with language impairment is provided in Chapter 2. The way in which language and communication impairments impact on adjustment depends on the developmental tasks with which a child is struggling at any particular point in time. Consequently, in Chapters 3 and 4 a developmental framework is used to examine the relationship between language impairment and psychopathology and associated conditions in relation to normative developmental tasks, first during infancy (Chapter 3) and then in the preschool period, middle childhood, and adolescence (Chapter 4). Possible links between language impairment and psycho pathology are examined from a transactional perspective, with the assumption that there is an interplay between language and social-emotional disturbance and the environmental contexts in which children grow up, such that even a relatively mild language impairment can result in serious sequelae. Chapter 5 provides guidelines and measures for identification and assessment of children with co-occurring language impairment and socialemotional disorder. Finally, in Chapter 6, interventions and adaptations of interventions for children with co-occurring language impairment and social-emotional disorder are reviewed. The assumption is made that research and treatment of infants, children, and youths must draw on a developmental knowledge base and that professionals of different disciplines must work together collaboratively. Throughout, case studies illustrate the contribution of language and communication impairments to transactions, adaptations, and maladaptations that can occur during development.

    Acknowledgments

    Both individuals and institutions made important contributions to the work reported in this book. In particular, I would like to express appreciation to my collaborators Melanie Barwick, Naomi Horodezky, Nancie Im-Bolter, Lila Isaacson, Mirek Lojkasek, Rosanne Menna, Elisabeth Muir, and Denise Vallance. Each made a unique and important contribution to our research efforts and to the joy of good teamwork. Special thanks to Naomi Horodezky and Melanie Barwick, who read earlier versions of this book. I also want to express appreciation to Health Canada National Health and Research Development Program, the Ontario Mental Health Foundation, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for funding the research described in this book. Some of the grants were awarded to my collaborators Melanie Barwick and Denise Vallance. Deep gratitude also needs to be expressed to the families for their participation and to the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre and the George Hull Centre for their institutional support. Finally, at a more personal level, I want to thank Robert Escoe for his patience, his ear, and his unflagging support.

    Dedication

    Language tethers us to the world; without it we spin like atoms.

    (Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger, 1987)
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    Author Index

    About the Author

    Nancy J. Cohen is Director of Research at the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre for Children's Mental Health and the Hincks-Dellcrest Institute. She is also Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and Adjunct Professor of Psychology at York University. Since receiving her doctorate in developmental psychopathology from McGill University in Montreal, she has published widely about the overlap of language impairment and psychopathology, infant mental health, and adoption. Currently, she has expanded her research to include community-based interventions for infants and preschoolers aimed at preventing language-based problems. She has served as a consultant to numerous projects and community agencies and has made presentations and conducted workshops on language impairment and psychopathology, postadoption services, and infant- and child-led interventions both nationally and internationally. She is coeditor of the book Language Learning and Behavior Disorders (Beitchman, Cohen, Konstantareas, and Tannock, 1996). She also is a consulting editor to the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. Along with her research, she has a private practice where she works primarily with children and their families.


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