Children with language impairment (LI) often demonstrate difficulties in social communication. The purpose of this pilot study was to examine the quantity and quality of the social interactions of children with LI and their typical peers through an analysis of the social networks or circles of each child. Eight children with LI as well as eight children with typically developing language and their parents were interviewed. Children's social networks were organized by social circles to effectively paint a picture of each child's social communication (Blackstone & Hunt Berg, 2003). Children with LI were found to have overall fewer contacts in their social circles than children with typical language; they also interacted with fewer peers than did children with typical language. The children with LI interacted with more adults who were paid or obligated to interact with them than did their typical peers. Information about the nature of social interactions of children with LI as well as those of children with typical language was obtained from parent interviews. Qualitative observations from the parent interviews demonstrated that the Internet was not used as a significant mode of communication for children in this age group, although the children who used it to communicate were all from the Typical group. Most parents reported that children spent the most time and talked the most with immediate family members. A greater number of parents of children with LI than parents of children with typical language skills reported their children to have people they would like to talk to but did not. Parents of children with LI also reported their children to use fewer topics in conversation than were reported by parents of their typical peers. With few exceptions, parents of children in both groups reported that their children talked mostly about concrete rather than abstract topics. More parents of children with LI than those with typical language indicated that their children had topics they would like to talk about but did not or lacked the ability to do so.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Communication Disorders



Date Submitted


Document Type





language impairment, social circles, social networks, social communication, sociability, social skills, school-age children