Comprehension of humor in children with non-verbal learning disabilites

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Glass, Kimberly Lynne

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The normal development of humor in children has been well documented and is understood as having a predictable developmental course, which is tied to social, cognitive and linguistic development in children. This dissertation study explored humor comprehension in children with nonverbal learning disabilities (NVLD). Children with NVLD were compared with children with reading disabilities and a control group of children with no learning disabilities to assess their comprehension of humor. The Humor Test was developed for the purposes of this study and was composed of a joke and cartoon section. No group differences in humor comprehension were found when the NVLD group was defined as having visual spatial and visual reasoning deficits. However, when the NVLD group was divided into children with and without social perceptual difficulties as defined by the Child and Adolescent Test of Social Perception (CASP), significant group differences were found in the levels of humor comprehension. These results support the association of humor comprehension with social perception and lend support to the hypothesis that children with NVLD may not be a homogenous group. Future study directions include further exploration into the nature of the association between humor comprehension and social perception as well as closer examination of the heterogeneity of NVLD.