Language functioning, mental health and alexithymia in incarcerated young offenders

Snow, Pamela C., Woodward, Mary, Mathis, Monique and Powell, Martine B. 2016, Language functioning, mental health and alexithymia in incarcerated young offenders, International journal of speech-language pathology, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 20-31, doi: 10.3109/17549507.2015.1081291.

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Title Language functioning, mental health and alexithymia in incarcerated young offenders
Author(s) Snow, Pamela C.
Woodward, Mary
Mathis, Monique
Powell, Martine B.ORCID iD for Powell, Martine B.
Journal name International journal of speech-language pathology
Volume number 18
Issue number 1
Start page 20
End page 31
Total pages 12
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Place of publication Abigndon, Eng.
Publication date 2016
ISSN 1754-9515
Keyword(s) alexithymia
young offenders
Summary Purpose: Previous studies describe high rates of language impairment in young offenders; however, important correlates such as mental health status and alexithymia have received little attention.
Method: This study describes a cross-sectional study of the language, emotion recognition and mental health of 100 young people completing custodial sentences in New South Wales (Australia). The sample comprised 70 young people from nonindigenous
backgrounds (n¼60 male) and 30 from indigenous backgrounds (n¼25 male). The mean age of the sample was 17.1 years. It was hypothesized that, in addition to elevated rates of language impairment, alexithymia would be overrepresented in this group. It was further predicted that impoverished language skills would contribute to alexithymia scores.
Result: Only a quarter of the sample overall achieved Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF-4) Core Language Scores in the expected range; rates of language impairment were higher in indigenous males than in nonindigenous males and in the females. Alexithymia was present in 59% of the sample, but appeared to be associated with poor mental health, rather than with language impairment.
Conclusion: Interventions for young offenders (e.g. psychological counselling, restorative justice conferencing) should be framed around these difficulties. Validated language measures for use with young indigenous offenders are needed.
Language eng
DOI 10.3109/17549507.2015.1081291
Field of Research 1103 Clinical Sciences
1702 Cognitive Science
2004 Linguistics
170104 Forensic Psychology
Socio Economic Objective 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2015, Speech Pathology Association of Australia
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Document type: Journal Article
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School of Psychology
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