Furthermore, the current investigations have been concerned with whether these extensive difficulties represent an actual deficit, or rather, a deficiency that improves over time. For example, as mentioned earlier, studies such as that of Sisterhern and Gerber (1989) have included several age groups of students. Although all of the 14, 16, and 18 year-old students who participated in this study improved in their ability to interpret visual and multi-sensory nonverbal social cues, across the age groups, adolescents with disabilities continued to show poorer social-perceptual ability.
Similarly, when Jackson et al. (1987) examined 11, 14, and 17 year-old children with and without disabilities over time, they all improved in their ability to interpret nonverbal social information, but proportional differences in their abilities remained. These findings suggest an actual deficit in social-cognitive ability in children with disabilities. If the differences in social-cognitive ability of children with and without disabilities were the result of a developmental lag, then proportionate differences between these two groups should have lessened with age.
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