Researchers conducted a pilot study to determine ways to assess social communication difficulties in children with impaired social functioning caused by moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). The article, “The relationship between social communication and social functioning in pediatric TBI: A pilot study” was epublished on August 14, 2019 by Frontiers in Neurology. Social functioning comprises a range of skills including social cognition, social skills, emotional perception and social communication. Among children with traumatic brain injury, social communication is frequently impaired, adversely affecting wellbeing, school performance, and community integration. Researchers compared two groups of children, 16 with TBI, and 20 children who had not sustained a brain injury. All underwent neuropsychological evaluation and completed a task of social cognition (Theory of Mind), which tests the ability to discern the thoughts and beliefs of others.
Compared with the children without brain injury, parents reported that children with TBI had significantly poorer social communication skills, and more behavioral and social issues. In addition, deficits in social communication correlated closely with deficits of social cognition as measured objectively by the Theory of Mind task.