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This study compared the social adjustment and academic peifonnance of 15 psychiatrically hospitalized children with depression to 14 children with schizophrenia spectrum disorders and 20 nonnal community children, ages 7-14. The relationship between children's interpersonal and academic competence and the quality of direct family interactions was also examined. Analyses revealed an association between children's adaptive functioning and both diagnostic status and family transactional processes, as assessed by two 10-minute conflict-solving tasks. Major findings were as follows: (a) depressed children and children with schizophrenia spectrum disorders received similarly low ratings of social competence in comparison to normal controls; (b) academic peifonnance of depressed children was similar to nonnal controls and better than children with schizophrenia spectrum disorders; and (c) children with poorer social competence and more behavioral problems were more likely to have parents who showed negative affect during family problem-solving tasks. The implications of these results for understanding the relationship between psychiatric impairment and children's social and academic development were discussed.


Originally published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 26(1), 77-87.

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