Graduation Term


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders: Speech-Language Pathology

Committee Chair

Ciera Lorio


A childhood spent in foster care has been linked to various adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) including neglect, maltreatment, and physical abuse. The presence of ACEs has the potential to negatively impact neurological development. Our study seeks to inform practicing speech-language pathologists on the potential risks of a history of foster care on the pragmatic domain of language: social communication. The current literature focuses more on general language development, such as expressive language or the prevalence of language delays. This article details our use of a survey study given to adoptive parents of foster children on their child’s social communication abilities. The same survey was given to parents of biological children to identify any potential differences between children adopted out of foster care and children who grew up in homes with their biological parents. The survey was divided into the following categories: Emotional and Self-Regulation, Behaviors and Interactions of Others, Awareness of Self and Others, Conversational Skills, Unspoken Communication Skills, and Miscellaneous Skills. Following the survey, five follow-up interviews were conducted over zoom with participants and also included in the study. The quantitative findings from the surveys demonstrated a significant difference between adoptive foster children and biological children, with the adoptive foster children scoring significantly higher than biological children across all categories via parent report. Qualitative analysis of the follow-up interviews revealed five themes between participants relevant to the research questions: the presence of abuse and neglect before foster placement, the role of attachment, the effect of early trauma on communication and behavior, difficulty with peer relationships, and diagnoses, services, and academics.


Page Count


Available for download on Saturday, November 30, 2024