Social functioning and facial expression recognition in children with neurofibromatosis type 1.
BACKGROUND: This study examined social functioning and facial expression recognition (FER) in children with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) compared to typically developing peers. Specifically, the current research aimed to identify hypothesised relationships between neurocognitive ability, FER and social functioning. METHOD: Children, ages 8 to 16, with NF1 (n = 23) and typically developing peers (n = 23) were recruited during regularly scheduled clinic visits and through advertisements on an institutional clinical trials website, respectively. Participants completed a measure of FER, an abbreviated intelligence test and questionnaires regarding their quality of life and behavioural functioning. Parents were also asked to complete questionnaires regarding the social-emotional and cognitive functioning of their child. RESULTS: As expected, there were significant differences between children with NF1 and typically developing peers across domains of social functioning and FER. Within the sample of children with NF1, there were no significant associations observed between cognitive measures, social functioning and facial recognition skills. CONCLUSION: Children with NF1 exhibited high rates of social impairment and weak FER skills compared to controls. The absence of associations between FER with cognitive and social variables, however, suggests something unique about this skill in children with NF1. Theoretical comparisons are made to children with autism spectrum disorders, as this condition may serve as a potentially useful model in better understanding FER in children with NF1.
Allen, T; Willard, VW; Anderson, LM; Hardy, KK; Bonner, MJ
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