Longitudinal inquiry into the early association between antisocial behaviour and reading difficulty
The aetiology, contexts and processes involved in becoming an antisocial backward reader were examined by means of a longitudinal study. One hundred and ninety eight urban lower class boys from eight schools were tested at school entry. A group at risk of antisocial conduct disorders and reading disabilities was formed from unregulated and impulsive children who were poor perceptually and linguistically. In two years nearly half these children gave evidence of difficulties connected with reading, conduct or both together. Among the major findings were:- Unregulated, impulsive classroom behaviour was shown to be related to performance on tests of cognitive impulsivity only in boys with poor conceptual abilities. Developmental, environmental, temperamental and intellectual factors did not separately explain all cases of antisocial behaviour and reading backwardness. A multifactorial explanation fitted the results most satisfactorily with domestic adversity making the greatest contribution. Antisocial emotional disturbances were apparent at school entry together with poor perceptual and linguistic abilities. Antisocial behaviour did not increase as difficulties in reading emerged. Low self-esteem was also apparent before the high risk boys encountered reading difficulties. Boys with reading problems were not unpopular unless they were also already antisocial. These results challenge the model as applied to Infant Schoolboys of antisocial behaviour as a response to loss of self-esteem and social status following reading difficulties. There was moderate agreement between parents and teachers on the unregulated and antisocial aspects of the high risk boys' behaviour. Parental behaviours associated with high risk in the children were poor disciplinary practices, lack of harmony and confidence and lesser paternal attacliment. Following a six month intervention programme in Primary One an experimental group of high risk boys showed less maladjustment than on first testing and less maladjustment than a control group. Their reading test scores were better, but not significantly better, than those of the control group.