Recent literature has suggested a link between verbal working memory and language impairment (LI) in children. There is limited research, however, about the link between verbal working memory and social behaviors in children with LI. This study was designed to explore the relationship between social behaviors (measured by the Teacher Behavior Rating Scale; Hart & Robinson, 1996) and verbal working memory abilities (measured by a 3-, 4-, and 5-syllable nonword repetition task) in children with LI. Thirty-six children (18 with LI and 18 typically developing) aged 7 to 11 years participated in the study. Children with LI were rated by teachers as having significantly higher levels of reticence and lower levels of likeability and prosocial behaviors compared to typically developing peers. Children with LI also scored significantly lower on the nonword repetition task at the 3- and 4-syllable levels. Regression analyses revealed that nonword repetition scores were significant predictors of reticence and prosocial behaviors when examining all children as a group, accounting for 22% and 42% of the variance, respectively. As nonword repetition performance increased, reticence ratings decreased and prosocial behavior ratings increased. Nonword repetition did not significantly predict ratings on reticence or prosocial behaviors when examining language groups separately. Nonword repetition was not a significant predictor of likeability for children in this study. These findings indicate a relationship between nonword repetition performance and social behaviors in children with and without LI.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Communication Disorders



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Document Type





nonword repetition, language impairment, social behavior