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Narrative skill and testimonial accuracy in typically developing children and those with intellectual disabilities

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/09/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>Applied Cognitive Psychology
Issue number5
Volume32
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)550-560
Publication statusPublished
Early online date27/06/18
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Children must describe maltreatment coherently for their testimony to be influential in court. We know little about how well children with intellectual disabilities (CWID) describe their experiences relative to typically developing (TD) children, despite CWID's vulnerability to maltreatment. We investigated children's reports of an experienced event and compared coherence in CWID (mild to moderate impairment: 7–11 years) with TD children matched for mental (4–10 years) or chronological age (7–11 years). All children included important markers of narrative coherence in their reports. Children with lower mental ages, particularly those with an intellectual disability, included fewer markers of narrative coherence in their reports than children with higher mental ages. Individual markers of narrative coherence, particularly recall of content, predicted accuracy of testimony and resistance to suggestion even when disability and mental age were taken into account. These findings highlight the importance of helping children to describe their experiences coherently.