Communicative competency is strongly linked to social acceptability and popularity in preschool and school-age children (Hazen & Black, 89; Black & Hazen, 90; Place & Becker, 91). Studies have found that "liked" children were more skilled at initiating, contingent responding, acknowledging and speaking to more than one partner simultaneously (Hazen & Black, 89). In contrast, "disliked" children were less skilled at requesting using polite forms (Place & Becker, 91), less responsive in interactions, and more likely to produce irrelevant remarks (Black & Hazen, 1990). Further, research examining social interaction/social status of children with language impairments in preschool classrooms has shown that children with communication impairments were more frequently ignored by peers (Rice, Sell, & Hadley, 91) and were not as popular as their normally developing classmates (Gertner, Rice, & Hadley, 94). Finally, it appears that biases about children with communication impairments are also shared by adults, including teachers and speech language pathologists. Results of a study by Rice and colleagues have shown that adults consistently rate children with communication impairments as less intelligent and less socially competent (Rice, Hadley, & Alexander, 93). People form quick and negative impressions of individuals who evidence even minor articulation disorders such that those who have distorted speech are considered to be intellectually slow and handicapped (Clase, 1969; Mowren, Wahl, & Doolan, 1978; Perrin, 1954). The findings of studies such as these have important implications for the development and maintenance of friendships and judgements of academic potential for children with communication deficits (Rice, 93; Gertner et al., 94).

Friendship is one of the most basic human needs and the one thing that all parents want for their children. If all of our children, including those with communication disorders, are to have the opportunity to 'belong', their communication needs must be met.


Black, B. & Hazen, N.L. (1990). Social status and patterns of communication in acquainted and unacquainted preschool children. Developmental Psychology, 26, 379-387.

Clase, J. (1969). A comparison of responses of speech clinicians and laymen to the effects of conspicuous articulation deviations on certain aspects of communication. Ph.D. Dissertation. State University of New York at Buffalo.

Gertner, B.L., Rice, M.L., & Hadley, P.A. (1994). Influence of communicative competence on peer preferences in a preschool classroom. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 37, 913-923.

Hazen, N.L. and Black, G. (1989). Preschool peer communication skills: The role of social status and interaction context. Child Development, 60, 867-876.

Perrin, E. (1954). The social position of the speech defective child. Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, 19, 250-262.

Place, K.S. & Becker, J.A. (1991). The influence of pragmatic competence on the likability of grade-school children. Discourse Processes, 14, 227-241.

Mowren, D., Wahl, P. & Doolan, S. (1978). The effects of lisping on audience evaluation of male speakers. Journal of Speech and Hearing disorders, 42(2), 140-148.

Rice, M.L. (1993). Don't talk to him; he's weird: A social consequences account of language and social interactions. In Kaiser, A.P. & Gray, D.B. (eds) Enhancing children's communication: Research foundations for intervention. Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing Co.

Rice, M.L., Hadley, P.P., Alexander, A.L. (1993). Social biases toward children with specific language impairment: A correlative causal model of language limitations. Applied Psycholinguistics, 14 (443-472).

Rice, M. Sell, M. Hadley, P. (1991). Social interactions of speech-and language-impaired children. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 34, 1299-1308.

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