A multimodal assessment of behavioral and cognitive deficits in abused and neglected preschoolers

Child Dev. 1984 Jun;55(3):794-802.


42 preschool children who had a previous history of physical abuse, serious neglect, or no prior history of child maltreatment participated in a multimodal assessment of cognitive and behavioral functioning. In addition to standardized tests of cognitive ability and behavioral observations in the classrooms, both the parents and teachers rated the children on several measures. Results show that the abused and neglected children had lower scores on all the measures of cognitive functioning when compared to the matched comparison children. The behavioral observation data from the classrooms, however, were more complex. That is, differences among groups depended on the type of behavior observed. Neglected children engaged in the least number of interactions with other children, and the abused children demonstrated the most aggression. Both parents and teachers rated the maltreated children as more aggressive, less mature, and less ready to learn. In summary, differences between abused, neglected, and comparison children were present on a number of measures, indicating that maltreated children display significant cognitive and social deficits.

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / psychology
  • Child
  • Child Abuse*
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Child Development
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Learning Disabilities / psychology
  • Social Adjustment