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Linking language and social competence in DLD (Wieczorek et al., 2024)

Version 2 2024-01-12, 23:30
Version 1 2023-11-20, 17:12
online resource
posted on 2024-01-12, 23:30 authored by Karolina Wieczorek, Megan DeGroot, Sheri Madigan, Paolo Pador, Heather Ganshorn, Susan Graham

Purpose: This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to examine the association between language skills and social competence in children with developmental language disorder (DLD) and to assess the potential moderators of these associations.

Method: The study was reported using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Studies were identified according to a search strategy carried out in PsycINFO, MEDLINE, Scopus, Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts, and ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global databases. A total of 15,069 articles were independently double screened in the title and abstract phases, with 250 articles proceeding to a full-text review. Inclusion criteria comprised (a) a sample of children with DLD between the ages of 2 and 12 years, (b) a language measure, (c) a social competence measure, and (d) an appropriate statistic. Exclusion criteria were (a) intervention studies with no baseline data, (b) language measures based on preverbal abilities, (c) samples of children with DLD and other clinical conditions, and (d) studies without useable statistics. Data were extracted from 21 studies that met the eligibility criteria for the meta-analysis.

Results: Pooled estimates across 21 studies (Mage = 7.52 years; 64% male) and 6,830 children indicated a significant association between language skills and social competence in children with DLD (r = .18, 95% confidence interval [.12, .24], p < .001), which was small in magnitude. The effect sizes were stronger in studies that assessed overall language skills than in those that specifically measured receptive or expressive language skills.

Conclusions: Findings from this study support a subtle and reliable relationship between language and social competence in children with DLD. The implications and limitations of this study and its future directions are also discussed.

Supplemental Material S1. Summary of study quality coding for each paper, study quality criteria used to assess 21 studies, and excluded studies.

Supplemental Material S2. Psychometric properties of the social measures and language measures included in the meta-analysis.

Supplemental Material S3. PRISMA 2020 checklist.

Wieczorek, K., DeGroot, M.,Madigan, S., Pador, P., Ganshorn, H., & Graham, S. (2024). Linking language skills and social competence in children with developmental language disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 33(1), 505–526.


This research was supported in part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada (435-2020-1097), funding from the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation awarded to Susan Graham, and funding from the SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship Doctoral Award awarded to Karolina Wieczorek.