Comprehension Of Nonverbal Communication In Learning Disabled And Non - Learning Disabled Children

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


The purpose of this study was to determine whether learning disabled (LD) children differ from their nondisabled (non-LD) peers in the ability to comprehend nonverbal communication and on other social competence skills. Thirty LD boys and thirty non-LD boys between nine and twelve years of age served as subjects. A short form of the Profile of Nonverbal Sensitivity (PONS) was used to assess nonverbal comprehension; social competence measures included teachers' ratings of aggressive and withdrawal behaviors using the Behavior Problem Checklist, and "blind" judges' ratings of performance on a role-play of a social interaction. In order to minimize potential attentional differences between the LD and non-LD groups, attention-incentive conditions were provided for all subjects during the administration of the PONS.Under attention-incentive conditions, attention to the PONS stimuli was found to be optimal in both groups, and no performance differences between LD and non-LD children occurred. Results regarding the reliability and validity of the Face and Body PONS, however, suggest that a different measure of nonverbal comprehension be used in subsequent research with similar populations. Although the PONS did not differentiate between LD and non-LD students, certain social behaviors did differentiate the two groups: LD children were judged to be more withdrawn by their teachers and to be less socially skilled according to their role-play performance. Results suggest that LD children's social behaviors may hinder their social acceptance; future research should therefore be designed to identify specific maladaptive behaviors of LF children that may be addressed in social remediation programs.


Psychology, Clinical

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