Social Information Processing and Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Children With Sickle Cell Disease

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ObjectiveTo examine social information processing, social skills, and adjustment difficulties in children with sickle cell disease (SCD) as rated by caregivers, teachers, and the children themselves. Children were classified in two groups: cerebral vascular accidents (CVA) (n=21) or without central nervous system (CNS) pathology (n=20) on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Both groups had HbSS SCD. We compared these two groups and a third group of 11 children who had a milder type of SCD (HbSC).MethodsParticipants referred for evaluation of learning and behavior problems were administered MRIs to ascertain the presence of pathology and a series of measures designed to assess nonverbal emotional decoding abilities and ratings of social emotional functioning.ResultsChildren with CVA displayed more errors on tasks of facial and vocal emotional decoding than did comparison controls without CVA.ConclusionsAcquired neurological impairments in children with SCD seemed to be associated with difficulties in the decoding of emotions of other children and adults. We recommend that future research integrate neuropsychological and psychosocial research programs for pediatric chronic illness groups.

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