Trajectories of Prosociality in Children at Risk of Developmental Language Disorder: Early Life Predictors and Social-Emotional Outcomes

  • Toseeb, Umar (Principal investigator)
  • St Clair, Michelle C (Co-investigator)

Project: Other projectResearch collaboration

Project Details


Background: Longitudinal research into the development of prosociality during childhood contributes to the understanding of individual differences in social-emotional outcomes. Most of the research to date has been concerned with prosocial behaviour in typically developing children; much less research has been directed to the development in individuals with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD).
Methods: Data from a UK population based study was used to investigate prosociality from age 5 to 11 years in 461 children with DLD and 14,165 children without DLD. Multilevel mixed-effects regression models were run to investigate the mean change of prosociality over the study period and latent class growth analysis was used to identify heterogonous groups of children who shared similar patterns of development over time.

Key findings

Results: Overall, children with DLD were less prosocial at age 5 years and, although they did become more prosocial by the age of 11, they did not reach the same levels of prosociality as those without DLD. Subsequent sub-group analysis revealed four distinct developmental trajectories: stable high (19%), stable slightly low (36%), decreasing to slightly low (5%), and increasing to high (40%). Children with DLD were less likely than those without DLD to be in the stable high class and the stable slightly low class but they were more likely to be in the increasing to high class. Children with DLD who were consistently highly prosocial had comparable social-emotional development at age 5 years to children without DLD. Conversely, children with DLD who started low but increased in prosociality had worse social-emotional development at age 5 years compared to children without DLD. Conclusions: Children with DLD have lower levels of prosociality during childhood compared to children without DLD. There is, however, considerable heterogeneity in the development course and, for most children with DLD, prosociality is an area of relative strength.
Effective start/end date1/08/1631/12/17