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Social Language Development Test Adolescent
Ages: 12-17   Grades: 7-12         

Learn more about social language skills in everyday life

Identify atypical social language behaviors in your adolescent students and determine how they compare to their typically-developing peers.

Test Set
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Social Language Development Test Adol FORMS (20)
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Test Purpose
The Social Language Development Test Adolescent is a standardized test of social language skills that focus on social interpretation and interaction with peers.  Tasks require students to take someone's perspective, make correct inferences, solve problems with peers, interpret social language, and understand idioms, irony, and sarcasm.  This ground-breaking test shows statistically-significant age progression and focuses on skills proven to be deeply sensitive to the subtle aspects of social language development.


Test Description
The SLDT A is a diagnostic test of social language skills for adolescents.  It assesses students' language-based responses to portrayed, peer-to-peer situations.  The test differentiates typically-developing adolescents from those with language learning disorders or autism.  There are five subtests with 12 items each: Making Inferences, Interpreting Social Language, Problem Solving, Social Interpretation, and Interpreting Ironic Statements.  Test stimuli include photographs, scenarios presented verbally by the examiner, and audio recordings of a CD.



  • Subtest A: Making Inferences
    The first question asks the student to take the perspective of someone in a photograph and, based on the context clues (facial expression, gesture, posture), tell what the person is thinking as a direct quote from the character.  The comment must relate to the character's age, any context clues, and the emotional intensity of the character's expression and posture.  The second question asks the student to identify the relevant visual clues suggesting the character's thought.
  • Subtest B: Interpreting Social Language
    This subtest examines the student's social metalinguistic skills.  The questions are designed to tap a variety of skills that reflect how people communicate:
    • demonstrate an action and tell an appropriate reason or use for that action
    • give an example or definition
    • interpret an idiom used in a short vignette
  • Subtest C: Problem Solving (Stating and Justifying Solutions)
    The student imagines being in a problem situation with a friend and is asked to propose an appropriate, logical solution and justifies why that solution would be a good one.
  • Subtest D: Social Interaction
    This subtest asks the student to assume the perspective of a main character in a situation with a peer, consider the perspective of the peer, and make a comment or do something to support the peer.
  • Subtest E: Interpreting Ironic Statements
    The student listens to a situation on an audio CD and shows an understanding of the dialogue, including idioms, and interprets its irony and sarcasm.  The student must understand the intention of the speaker and use the context clues from the story to explain irony and sarcasm.

Examiner Qualifications
The test should be administered by a trained professional familiar with language disorders (e.g., speech-language pathologist, psychologist) because careful interpretation of the responses is required.


Test Procedures

  • Begin with Subtest A: Making Inferences.  Administer the demonstration item and acknowledge the student's response or provide the correct response.  This item can be altered or explained to show the student how to respond.  Proceed to item 1 and administer each item verbally.  You will need the Picture Stimuli Book.
  • Complete the remaining subtests in the same manner.  Because basals and ceilings are not used in the SLDT A, the test is administered in its entirety to every student.
  • For Subtest E: Interpreting Ironic Statements, the student listens to some situations on an audio CD included with the test set.  All instructions and test items are presented verbally using a conversational style with normal intonation and speaking rate.
  • Some prompting is allowed.  If the student's response is unclear, use the prompts provided on the test form.  These prompts are not used to give the student "a second chance" after a clear, complete but incorrect response.
  • Item repetition is allowed only if the student does not respond to a test item or requests a repetition.  Items may not be reworded or paraphrased at any time.

Testing Time

  • 45 minutes

Scoring/Types of Scores
Specific scoring guidelines for each test item are provided in detail in the Scoring Standards & Example Responses Book. It provides research-based rationale for acceptable and unacceptable responses for each test item. Acceptable and unacceptable responses are also referenced on the test form.

For all test items, a score of 1 or 0 is assigned to each response, based on relevancy and quality.

The criteria for correct responses are:

  • Subtest A: Making Inferences—A direct quote in the first person, that is relevant to the person's situation plus a specific, relevant clue from the picture.  The first person is required to receive a score of 1 regardless of the content of the response.
  • Subtest B: Interpreting Social Language—an appropriate action/response plus tells an appropriate reason/use
  • Subtest C: Problem Solving (Stating and Justifying Solutions)—an appropriate solution plus a justification
  • Subtest D: Social Interaction—a response that supports the situation
  • Subtest E: Interpreting Ironic Statements—a response that indicates the student heard and explained the irony in the situations
  • Raw scores convert to:
    • Age Equivalents
    • Percentile Ranks
    • Standard Scores

Discussion of Performance
The Discussion of Performance section found in the Examiner's Manual was developed to guide the examiner to make appropriate and educationally-relevant recommendations for remediation based on a clear understanding of each subtest.

The skills students need to be successful on each subtest and each task within a subtest are delineated and applied to academic performance and peer interactions.

Error patterns are identified and the implications for why a student responded incorrectly are given.  Teachers and parents will find this information helpful as it identifies specific behaviors their student may exhibit.

General remediation strategies you can incorporate immediately into your therapy program or ask teachers and parents to do are also included.


Standardization and Statistics
Two studies were conducted on The Social Language Development Test Adolescent – the item pool and standardization studies.

The item pool study consisted of 500 subjects from every region of the country.  The test was standardized on 834 subjects.  For both studies, the subjects represented the latest national school population demographics from the latest National Census for race, gender, age, and educational placement.  Test performances reflect typically-achieving students as well as those in subgroups found in the school population.  In addition, 68 subjects with language disorders and autism spectrum disorders were used in the validity studies.

  • Reliability—established by the use of the following for all subtests and the total test at all age levels:
    • SEM
    • Inter-Rater Reliability
    • Test-Retest
    • Reliability Based on Item Homogeneity (KR20)

The test-retest coefficient is .82 for the total test, the SEM is 4.66 for the total test and the KR20 coefficient is .92.  Inter-Rater reliability is 85% for the total test.  Given the uniqueness of the test, the clinical population, and scoring criteria, the reliability is considered highly satisfactory.


  • Validity—established by the use of construct and contrasted group validity.
    • Contrast Groups (t-values): test discriminates between subjects with normal social language development and subjects with autism and/or language impairment
    • Point Biserial Correlations
    • Subtest Intercorrelations
    • Correlations Between Subtests and Total Test

Results revealed highly satisfactory levels of item consistency (97%).  Internal consistency estimates are clearly satisfactory.  The test significantly discriminates between contrasted groups for every subtest and the total test.  These results are highly satisfactory and substantiates that the test differentiates students with language disorders or autism spectrum disorders from students developing language normally.


  • Race/Socioeconomic Group Difference Analyses—conducted at the item and subtest levels.  The analysis of performance differences among race/socioeconomic groups was conducted at the subtest level.
    • Z-tests Chi Square analysis at the subtest level
    • Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) F-tests

There are three Chi Squares out of 30 that are significant—one at the median, one at the 25th percentile, and one at the 75th percentile.  These relationships were not strong as the contingency coefficients ranged from .35 to .41.  The analyses of variance test indicate that there were some race and socioeconomic effects on the subtest scores but in 88% of the analyses, there were no race or SES effects.  Neither race nor SES has a major impact on the SLDT A.


Copyright © 2010

Test Set includes: examiner's manual, scoring standards and example responses book, picture stimuli book, audio CD, 20 test forms

The Social Language Development Test Adolescent is easy to administer and score.  All questions pertained to adolescent age and situations they might encounter.

Carly Jackson, SLP
Spokane, WA


Excellent test!  This test provides valuable diagnostic information as the student must verbalize reasons and justifications for responses.  Thank you for developing this assessment!

Jackie Grecco, SLP
Cranberry TWP, PA

  • Adolescent language development is marked by gradual improvements in syntax, semantics, and pragmatics.  Absence of these subtle language improvements may result in significant academic and social limitations (Nippold, 1993).
  • Adolescents with language impairments have difficulty keeping up with the language and social demands of peer interaction and therefore struggle to establish and maintain peer relationships (Brinton, Robinson, & Fujiki, 2004; Brinton & Fujiki, 2002). 
  • Students who are socially competent are more likely to succeed in school, work, and life.  Social competence is associated with peer acceptance, academic achievement, and successful employment.  The most successful students are those who have the kinds of social skills and behaviors that are highly rewarded by employers in the workplace (Lleras, 2008; Elksnin & Elksnin, 2000). 
  • Some studies show long-term benefits of social development intervention.  In a study by Hawkins, Kosterman, Catalano, Hill, & Abbott (2008), young adults who received social development training reported better mental health and higher educational and economic achievement later in life than a control group who did not receive training.
  • A study by Ford and Milosky (2003) suggests that the ability to infer other people's feelings may be "a critical link" between language comprehension difficulties (making inferences) and social difficulties experienced by children with language impairments.
  • Students with high-functioning autism can recognize simple emotions, but have difficulty explaining the causes of simple and complex emotions.  They also have an incomplete understanding of socially complex emotions (Bauminger, 2002). 
  • Studies show that it is possible to increase social interactions for adolescents with autism spectrum disorders by teaching specific social skills (Burgess & Turkstra, 2006). 
  • Recent brain studies show that specific areas of the social brain (including the medial prefrontal cortex) undergo structural development and synaptic reorganization during adolescence (Blakemore, 2008). 
  • Conflict resolution is important among adolescents since the need for intimacy increases during this time and relationships with friends are closely related to psychological well-being (Black, 2000).

The Social Language Development Test Adolescent incorporates these findings and is also based on expert professional practice.


Bauminger, N. (2002). The facilitation of social-emotional understanding and social interaction in high-functioning children with autism: Intervention outcomes. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 32(4), 283-298.

Black, K.A. (2000). Gender differences in adolescents' behavior during conflict resolution tasks with best friends. Adolescence, 35(139), 499-512.

Blakemore, S. (2008). The social brain in adolescence. Neuroscience, 9, 267-277.

Brinton, B., & Fujiki, M. (2002). Social development in children with specific language development and profound hearing loss. In P. K. Smith & C. H. Hart (Eds.), Blackwell handbook of childhood social development (pp 588-603). Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Brinton, B., Robinson, L.A., & Fujiki, M. (2004). Description of a program for social language intervention: "If you can have a conversation, you can have a relationship." Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 35, 283-290.

Burgess, S., & Turkstra, L.S. (2006). Social skills intervention for adolescents with autism spectrum disorders: A review of the experimental evidence. EBP Briefs, 1(4), 1-21.

Elksnin, L.K., & Elksnin, N. (2000). Teaching parents to teach their children to be prosocial. Retrieved August 4, 2009, from LD online:

Ford, J.A., & Milosky, L.M. (2003). Inferring emotional reactions in social situations: Differences in children with language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 46, 21-30.

Hawkins, J.D., Kosterman, R., Catalano, R.F., Hill, K.G., & Abbott, R.D. (2008). Effects of social development intervention in childhood 15 years later. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 162(12), 1133-1141.

Lleras, C. (2008). Do skills and behaviors in high school matter? The contribution of noncognitive factors in explaining differences in educational attainment and earnings. Social Science Research, 37, 888-902.

Nippold, M.A. (1993). Developmental markers in adolescent language: Syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 24, 21-28.


Linda Bowers, Rosemary Huisingh, Carolyn LoGiudice


Linda Bowers, M.A., SLP, a co-founder and co-owner of LinguiSystems.  She is a speech-language pathologist with wide experience serving language-disordered students of all ages.  Linda has keen professional interest in the thinking, listening, and language abilities of children and adults.

Rosemary Huisingh, M.A., SLP, a co-founder and co-owner of LinguiSystems.  As a speech-language pathologist, she has successfully served the communication needs of school children for many years.  Rosemary is particularly interested in childhood language, vocabulary, and thinking skills.

Carolyn LoGiudice, M.A., CCC-SLP, wrote and edited products and tests for LinguiSystems for 25 years, incorporating her previous experience as an SLP in school and clinic settings.  She is now retired and savoring time with her family, friends, and hobbies.

Linda, Rosemary, and Carolyn have co-authored several tests and products, including: 
Social Language Development Test Elementary 
The Listening Comprehension Test 2 
The Listening Comprehension Test Adolescent 
Test Of Problem Solving 3 Elementary (TOPS 3 Elementary) 
Test Of Problem Solving 2 Adolescent (TOPS 2 Adolescent) 
The WORD Test 2 Elementary 
The WORD Test 2 Adolescent 
Test Of Semantic Skills Primary (TOSS P)   
Test Of Semantic Skills Intermediate (TOSS I) 
The Expressive Language Test 2 
Tasks Of Problem Solving Elementary 
Tasks Of Problem Solving Adolescent 
No-Glamour Language and Reasoning 
No-Glamour Language and Reasoning Cards 
No-Glamour Language and Reasoning Interactive Software