University of Oulu

Löytömäki, J., Ohtonen, P., Laakso, M.‐L. and Huttunen, K. (2019), The role of linguistic and cognitive factors in emotion recognition difficulties in children with ASD, ADHD or DLD. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders. doi:10.1111/1460-6984.12514

The role of linguistic and cognitive factors in emotion recognition difficulties in children with ASD, ADHD or DLD

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Author: Löytömäki, Joanna1,2; Ohtonen, Pasi3; Laakso, Marja-Leena4;
Organizations: 1Department of Logopedics, Abo Akademi University, Turku, Finland
2Faculty of Humanities/Research Unit of Logopedics and Child Language Research Center, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Division of Operative Care, Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4Department of Education, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: embargoed
Persistent link: http://urn.fi/urn:nbn:fi-fe2019120946275
Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-12-03
Description:

Abstract

Background: Many children with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or developmental language disorder (DLD) have difficulty recognizing and understanding emotions. However, the reasons for these difficulties are currently not well understood.

Aims: To compare the emotion recognition skills of children with neurodevelopmental disorders as well as those children′s skills with the skills of their typically developing (TD) age peers. Also, to identify the role of underlying factors in predicting emotion recognition skills.

Methods & Procedures: The 6–10‐year‐old children (n = 50) who participated in the study had either ASD, ADHD or DLD and difficulties recognizing emotions from face and/or in voice. TD age peers (n = 106) served as controls. Children′s skills were tested using six forced‐choice tasks with emotional nonsense words, meaningful emotional sentences, the FEFA 2 test, photographs, video clips and a task in which facial expressions and tones of voice had to be matched. Expressive vocabulary, rapid serial naming, auditory and visual working memory and Theory of Mind skills were explored as possible explanatory factors of the emotion recognition difficulties of the diagnosed children.

Outcomes & Results: Children with ASD, ADHD or DLD did not significantly differ from each other in their linguistic or cognitive skills. Moreover, there were only minor differences between children with these diagnoses in recognizing facial expressions and emotional tone of voice and matching the two. The only significant difference was that children with ADHD recognized facial expressions in photographs better than children with DLD. The participants with diagnoses scored significantly lower than the controls in all but one emotion recognition tasks presented. According to the linear regression analysis, first‐order Theory of Mind skills predicted the delay relative to typical development in the recognition of facial expressions in the FEFA 2 test, and expressive vocabulary and working memory skills together predicted the delay in the recognition of emotions in the matching task.

Conclusions & Implications: Children with ASD, ADHD or DLD showed very similar emotion recognition skills and were also found to be significantly delayed in their development of these skills. Some predictive factors related to linguistic and cognitive skills were found for these difficulties. Information about impaired emotion recognition and underlying linguistic and cognitive skills helps to select intervention procedures. Without this information, therapy might unnecessarily focus on only symptoms.

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Series: International journal of language & communication disorders
ISSN: 1368-2822
ISSN-E: 1460-6984
ISSN-L: 1368-2822
Volume: In press
DOI: 10.1111/1460-6984.12514
OADOI: https://oadoi.org/10.1111/1460-6984.12514
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 616 Other humanities
Subjects:
Funding: The study was financed, in part, by the Social Security Institute of Finland (by a grant to the research group led by K.H.), the Foundation of Odd Fellows Barnfonden (to K.H.), the Finnish Association of Speech Therapists (to J.L.), the TOP Foundation (to J.L.) and the Research Foundation of the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare (to J.L.).
Copyright information: © 2019 Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Löytömäki, J., Ohtonen, P., Laakso, M.‐L. and Huttunen, K. (2019), The role of linguistic and cognitive factors in emotion recognition difficulties in children with ASD, ADHD or DLD. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders. doi:10.1111/1460-6984.12514, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1111/1460-6984.12514.