Purpose: To investigate metapragmatic ability in 6-11 year old children with social communication disorder (SCD), developmental language disorder (DLD) and typical language development (TLD); to explore factors associated with metapragmatic explicitation and social understanding.
Method: In this cross-sectional study, all participants (N= 82) completed an experimental task, the Assessment of Metapragmatics (AMP), in which pragmatic errors are identified in filmed interactions. Responses were scored for complexity/type of explicitation (MP score) and attribution of social characteristics to the films’ characters (Social Understanding (SU) score).
Results: SCD and DLD groups had significantly lower MP scores and less sophisticated explicitation than the TLD group. After controlling for language and age, the SCD group had significantly lower SU scores than the DLD group. Significant correlations were found between MP scores and age/language ability but not with pragmatic impairment.
Conclusions: Children with SCD or DLD performed poorly on a metapragmatic task compared to typically developing children, but do not differ from each other in ability to reflect verbally on pragmatic features in interactions. Metapragmatic ability appears to be closely related to structural language ability. The limited ability of children with SCD to attribute social/psychological states to interlocutors may indicate additional social attribution limitations.