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Autism & Developmental Language Impairments
Number of Followers: 14  

  This is an Open Access Journal Open Access journal
ISSN (Print) 2396-9415 - ISSN (Online) 2396-9415
Published by Sage Publications Homepage  [1174 journals]
  • Autistic preschoolers’ engagement and language use in gross motor versus
           symbolic play settings

    • Authors: Amanda V Binns, Devin M Casenhiser, Stuart G Shanker, Janis Oram Cardy
      Abstract: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, Volume 7, Issue , January-December 2022.
      Background and aims: Although adjustment of the environment is recommended as a support strategy in evidence-based interventions for children with autism, the impact of doing so (and the how and why) is not well understood. One essential environmental factor to consider when providing supports for preschool-aged autistic children is the play setting, specifically, the materials available in the child's play context. The aim of this study was to compare engagement states and number of utterances produced by preschool-aged autistic children within symbolic vs. gross motor play settings. Examining the relationship between gross motor play settings and children's social engagement and spoken language use is particularly important to explore for autistic children given differences in their sensory processing, motor skill development, and choice of and interaction with toys relative to neurotypical peers. Methods: Seventy autistic children aged 25-57 months were videotaped during natural play interactions with a parent. Children's social engagement and number of spoken utterances were examined in five minutes each of play with symbolic toys and play with gross motor toys. Continuous time-tagged video coding of the child-caregiver engagement states was conducted, and the child's frequency of spoken language was identified using language sample analysis. The specific variables examined were; (a) engagement with caregiver, (b) engagement with objects only, (c) unengaged (no evident engagement with objects or people), and (d) total number of spoken utterances. The relationship between play setting (symbolic vs gross motor) and child language and engagement state variables was examined with linear mixed effects modelling. Results: Significant main effects were revealed for the interaction between play setting and autistic children's engagement. Young autistic children were more likely to engage with caregivers in play environments with gross motor toys (moderate effect) and also were more likely to have periods of unengaged time (not overtly directing their attention to objects or people; small effect) in this setting. Further, when in a setting with symbolic toys, autistic children were more likely to spend their time focusing attention solely on objects (large effect). No interaction was found between play setting and total number of utterances spoken by autistic children. Conclusions and implications: This study confirmed the importance of continued research focused on understanding the relationship between children's play settings and their social engagement and language use. Although preliminary, findings support the idea that there is an interaction between preschool-aged autistic children's social engagement and their play settings. Further, our results suggest that there can be value in clinicians differentiating children's play settings (i.e., gross motor vs symbolic) when assessing and supporting social engagement capacities of young autistic children.
      Citation: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments
      PubDate: 2022-07-28T05:53:39Z
      DOI: 10.1177/23969415221115045
      Issue No: Vol. 7 (2022)
  • Syntactic development and verbal short-term memory of children with autism
           spectrum disorders having intellectual disabilities and children with down

    • Authors: Manami Koizumi, Michio Kojima
      Abstract: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, Volume 7, Issue , January-December 2022.
      Background and aimsPrevious studies suggest that syntactic development in children with intellectual disabilities (ID) is positively correlated with verbal short-term memory (VSTM). This study investigated the characteristics of syntactic development and their relationships of VSTM in children with ID based on type.MethodsThe participants were children with ID (N = 34), including 14 children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), 20 with Down syndrome (DS), with chronological ages from 8 years 10 months to 18 years 4 months and nonverbal mental ages (MA) of over 4 years, and typically developing (TD) children (N = 21) with chronological ages from 5 years 0 months to 5 years 10 months. They were assessed using VSTM, syntactic comprehension, and expression tasks.ResultsThe results showed that both the ASD and DS groups performed significantly lower on the syntactic comprehension task and the syntactic expression task than the TD group with the same nonverbal MA in the complex aspect of grammatical structure. In the VSTM task, the ASD group showed significantly lower performance in sentence and story repetition tasks than the TD group of the same nonverbal MA. The DS group showed significantly lower performance in forward digit span, and word, nonword, sentence, and story repetition tasks than the TD group of the same nonverbal MA.ConclusionsThese results suggest that children with ASD have difficulty in understanding and remembering linguistic information with complex semantic structures, and children with DS have a small capacity for VSTM, affecting their syntactic development.
      Citation: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments
      PubDate: 2022-06-22T06:52:34Z
      DOI: 10.1177/23969415221109690
      Issue No: Vol. 7 (2022)
  • Visual noise effect on reading in three developmental disorders: ASD,
           ADHD, and DD

    • Authors: Milena Slavcheva Mihaylova, Nadejda Bogdanova Bocheva, Miroslava Dimitrova Stefanova, Bilyana Zaharieva Genova, Tsvetalin Totev Totev, Kalina Ivanova Racheva, Katerina Atanasova Shtereva, Svetla Nikolaeva Staykova
      Abstract: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, Volume 7, Issue , January-December 2022.
      Background and aimsDevelopmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Developmental Dyslexia (DD) are reported to have more visual problems, oral language difficulties, and diminished reading skills in addition to their different diagnostic features. Moreover, these conditions also have increased internal noise and probably an impaired ability of external noise filtering. The aim of the present study was to compare the reading performance of these groups in the presence of external visual noise which disrupts the automatic reading processes through the degradation of letters.MethodsSixty-four children and adolescents in four groups, ASD, ADHD, DD, and TD, participated in the study. Two types of stimuli were used – unrelated words and pseudowords. The noise was generated by exchanging a fixed number of pixels between the black symbols and the white background distorting the letters. The task of the participants was to read aloud the words or pseudowords. The reading time for a single letter string, word or pseudoword, was calculated, and the proportion of errors was assessed in order to describe the reading performance.ResultsThe results obtained showed that the reading of unrelated words and pseudowords differs in the separate groups of participants and is affected differently by the added visual noise. In the no-noise condition, the group with TD had the shortest time for reading words and short pseudowords, followed by the group with ASD, while their reading of long pseudowords was slightly slower than that of the ASD group. The noise increase evoked variations in the reading of groups with ASD and ADHD, which differed from the no-noise condition and the control group with TD. The lowest proportion of errors was observed in readers with TD. The reading performance of the DD group was the worst at all noise levels, with the most prolonged reading time and the highest proportion of errors. At the highest noise level, the participants from all groups read the words and pseudowords with similar reading speed and accuracy.ConclusionsIn reading words and pseudowords, the ASD, ADHD, and DD groups show difficulties specific for each disorder revealed in a prolonged reading time and a higher proportion of errors. The dissimilarity in reading abilities of the groups with different development is most evident when the accuracy and reading speed are linked together.ImplicationsThe use of noise that degrades the letter structure in the present study allowed us to separate the groups with ASD, ADHD, and DD and disclose specifics in the reading process of each disorder. Error type analysis may provide a basis to improve the educational strategies by appropriately structuring the learning process of children with TD, ASD, ADHD, and DD.
      Citation: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments
      PubDate: 2022-06-08T07:09:47Z
      DOI: 10.1177/23969415221106119
      Issue No: Vol. 7 (2022)
  • Conventions for unconventional language: Revisiting a framework for spoken
           language features in autism

    • Authors: Rhiannon J Luyster, Emily Zane, Lisa Wisman Weil
      Abstract: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, Volume 7, Issue , January-December 2022.
      Background and aimsAutism has long been characterized by a range of spoken language features, including, for instance: the tendency to repeat words and phrases, the use of invented words, and “pedantic” language. These observations have been the source of considerable disagreement in both the theoretical and applied realms. Despite persistent professional interest in these language features, there has been little consensus around terminology, definitions and developmental/clinical interpretation.Main contributionThis review paper updates and expands an existing framework for unconventional language in autism to include a broader range of non-generative (echolalia and self-repetition) and generative (idiosyncratic phrases, neologisms and pedantic language) features often observed in the language of individuals on the autism spectrum. For each aspect of the framework, we review the various definitions and measurement approaches, and we provide a summary of individual and contextual correlates. We also propose some transitional language features that may bridge non-generative and generative domains (e.g., mitigated echolalia and gestalt language).ConclusionsThis updated framework offers a unified taxonomy and nomenclature that can facilitate further investigation and interpretation of unconventional language in autism.ImplicationsThere are important implications of this work for our understanding of the complex interplay between autism and language development. Equally important are the clinical ramifications that will guide evidence-based practice in assessment and intervention for individuals on the autism spectrum.
      Citation: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments
      PubDate: 2022-06-06T04:56:34Z
      DOI: 10.1177/23969415221105472
      Issue No: Vol. 7 (2022)
  • A systematic review of the academic achievement of primary and secondary
           school-aged students with developmental language disorder

    • Authors: Shaun Ziegenfusz, Jessica Paynter, Beverley Flückiger, Marleen F Westerveld
      Abstract: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, Volume 7, Issue , January-December 2022.
      Background and aimsThe ability to communicate is a fundamental skill required to participate in school. Students with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) have persistent and significant language difficulties that impact daily functioning. However, the impact of DLD on the academic achievement of primary and secondary school-aged students has received limited attention.MethodsA systematic review of the empirical research published between 2008 and 2020 was undertaken to identify studies that have examined the academic achievement of school-aged students with DLD within curriculum areas. A total of 44 studies were identified that met inclusion criteria for review.ResultsStudents with DLD demonstrated difficulties with academic achievement across all measured curriculum areas compared to their typically developing peers. Most studies focused on literacy skills, including reading, spelling, writing and narratives.Conclusions and implicationsThe performance of students with DLD was heterogeneous with individual students demonstrating relative strengths in some areas of academic achievement. The implications of these results for educational practices and future research are discussed.
      Citation: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments
      PubDate: 2022-06-03T07:52:37Z
      DOI: 10.1177/23969415221099397
      Issue No: Vol. 7 (2022)
  • Supporting the mental health of children with speech, language and
           communication needs: The views and experiences of parents

    • Authors: Hannah Hobson, Mya Kalsi, Louise Cotton, Melanie Forster, Umar Toseeb
      Abstract: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, Volume 7, Issue , January-December 2022.
      Background and aimsA high rate of children in mental health services have poor language skills, but little evidence exists on how mental health support is delivered to and received by children with language needs. This study looked at parental experiences, asking parents of children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) about their experiences seeking help for their children's mental health. We were particularly interested on the experiences of parents of children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), a specific SLCN that remains relatively unknown to the general public.MethodsWe conducted an online survey of 74 parents of children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). Survey respondents included parents of children with a range of difficulties, including DLD, autism, verbal dyspraxia, global intellectual delay, a history of hearing problems, and SLCN without a primary diagnosis. Survey respondents were asked what sources of support they had accessed for their child's mental health and to provide comments on what was good and what was not good about this support. We then conducted 9 semi-structured interviews of parents of children with DLD about their experiences. These were parents of children with DLD aged 7 to 17 years, from across a range of educational settings, and with a range of present mental health concerns.ResultsContent analyses of the survey responses from parents of children with SLCN highlighted three broad factors of importance to parents’ experiences: relational aspects of care, organisational aspects of care, and professionals’ knowledge. Thematic analyses of the interviews of parents of children with DLD identified 5 themes: the effects of language problems on the presentation of distress; the role of the school environment; the role of key professionals; standard approaches to mental health support might not be appropriate; and the role and impact on parents. Parents expressed concerns that their children's mental health problems and need for support would not be recognised, and felt interventions were not accessible, or delivered in a manner that was not comfortable for their children due to high reliance on oral language skills. Some parents were left feeling that there was no provision suitable for their children.ConclusionsParents of children with SLCN face barriers accessing support for their children's mental health, including a lack of professional knowledge about their children's language needs. Parents argued that language and communication needs can significantly affect the delivery and success of psychological therapies and interventions. Systematic research is needed to understand how to successfully adapt services to make them accessible to children and young people with language needs, and to ensure that mental health problems are detected in children with language difficulties. Increased knowledge about language disorders such as DLD, and access to speech and language therapy expertise, is needed amongst professionals who work to support children's mental health.
      Citation: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments
      PubDate: 2022-05-30T06:57:51Z
      DOI: 10.1177/23969415221101137
      Issue No: Vol. 7 (2022)
  • Perspectives of autistic adults on the strategies that help or hinder
           successful conversations

    • Authors: Kate Silver, Sarah Parsons
      Abstract: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, Volume 7, Issue , January-December 2022.
      Background & aimsThere is increasing recognition of the importance of challenging deficit-focused, medical model approaches to supporting autistic people in daily life, however there is a lack of inclusion of autistic perspectives to inform approaches that may empower autistic people in conversations.MethodsThis multiple case study used a participatory approach to explore the conversation experiences and exchange in dyads of five autistic and five non-autistic adults over four to 12 months. The study was grounded in the perspectives of autistic people through a series of semi-structured interviews, observations, reflective conversations, and diary records.ResultsThe findings focus on autistic participants’ existing knowledge of conversations that they reported could be useful to them, including the communication environment, and type and structure of talk. The study also helped participants to identify and use previously unrecognised metacognitive abilities (what they already knew about conversations) within naturalistic interactive contexts.ConclusionsThese findings provide novel insights as to how the ‘interactional expertise’ of non-autistic people could be strengthened to enable the effective contribution of the voices of autistic people in everyday conversations.ImplicationsThe identification and use of successful conversation strategies identified by autistic adults gave them a greater sense of empowerment within the conversation based on their accounts of their experiences. Understanding these strategies has valuable implications for staff training, for working with families and for learning by autistic adults.
      Citation: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments
      PubDate: 2022-05-20T08:14:50Z
      DOI: 10.1177/23969415221101113
      Issue No: Vol. 7 (2022)
  • Early communication development in infants and toddlers with Fragile X

    • Authors: Laura J Mattie, Lisa R Hamrick
      Abstract: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, Volume 7, Issue , January-December 2022.
      Background and AimsIndividuals with fragile X syndrome (FXS) characteristically struggle with language and communication throughout the life course, but there is limited research on the development of communication before 24 months. The purpose of this study is to describe the early communication of infants and toddlers with FXS using the Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales-Caregiver Questionnaire (CSBS-CQ), a standardized communication screening measure, as compared to the reported normative data of the CSBS-CQ and identify the percentage of infants and toddlers who scored within the range of concern. Documenting how children with FXS perform on screening measures can provide a quick snapshot of skills to help clinicians determine the need for services.MethodsParticipants were 22 infants and toddlers with FXS between 6 and 29 months. Performance on the CSBS-CQ was compared to the measure's normative data. The CSBS-CQ was completed by mothers, and children were administered the Mullen Scales of Early Learning. Because co-occurring autism is common in FXS, the presence of autism was determined using a clinical best estimate procedure.ResultsOverall and within the domains and subdomains of the CSBS-CQ, infants and toddlers with FXS had significantly lower scores than the normative data. Further, 68.2% of our sample was in the range of concern for their overall communication score. The presence of autism led to consistently lower scores, and more infants and toddlers with FXS + autism scored within the range of concern.ConclusionsOur findings suggest that delays in early communication are evident in comparison to typically developing norms before 24 months. These findings also emphasize that infants and toddlers with FXS would likely benefit from early language intervention given that 68.2% of our sample was in the range of concern for their overall communication score.ImplicationsEarly identification and developmental monitoring of children with FXS will help to determine concerns in communication and other domains of development. While early communication broadly may not be an early indicator of autism in FXS, some specific skills, such as eye gaze, may serve as such an indicator. Screening measures, like the CSBS-CQ, may help monitor both early communication impairments and autism symptoms. Infants and toddlers with FXS, regardless of autism status, will benefit from early language interventions.
      Citation: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments
      PubDate: 2022-05-06T11:10:35Z
      DOI: 10.1177/23969415221099403
      Issue No: Vol. 7 (2022)
  • Repeating purposefully: Empowering educators with functional communication
           models of echolalia in Autism

    • Authors: Eli G. Cohn, Keith R. McVilly, Matthew J. Harrison, Lillian N. Stiegler
      Abstract: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, Volume 7, Issue , January-December 2022.
      Background and AimsEcholalia, the repetition of speech, is highly prevalent in school aged children with Autism. Prior research has found that individuals with echolalia use their repetitions to engage in communicatively functional speech, in the absence of self-generated speech. Educators are the natural audience for a wide vary of echoed utterances across environments and in differing contexts. The objectives of this paper were three-fold: (1) to systematically investigate how researchers identify and ascribe communicative function to echoed utterances; (2) to gather and evaluate the evidence that might assist teachers to identify and better understand echoed utterances as being communicatively purposeful; and (3) to provide teachers with evidence-informed response strategies they can use to assist their students on their journey towards more self-generated speech.Main ContributionPrior research in the field of echolalia has generally been segmented into opposing viewpoints. A paucity of work in the echolalia field has meant that there is limited work that has sought to view how a communicative function to echolalia has been ascribed from across multiple disciplines and fields. As such, there is limited literature to guide the practice of classroom educators. This review combines communicative models from across various disciplines with the view to supporting classroom educators by providing guidance on how they might assist their students with echolalia. This review represents the first contribution to the research literature in this area.Conclusions and ImplicationsResearch into echolalia did not originally emanate from the field of education; however, anecdotes from classroom educators were cited as the primary impetus for the creation of some of the communicatively functional models. We found that although there are many techniques that researchers have used to attribute a communicative function to echolalia, some of these can be easily employed by educators in their practice. By adopting these techniques, educators are placed in a position that may assist with the identification of communicative echolalia; subsequently they are better placed to acknowledge and respond to their students.
      Citation: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments
      PubDate: 2022-04-22T06:16:46Z
      DOI: 10.1177/23969415221091928
      Issue No: Vol. 7 (2022)
  • From high school to postsecondary education, training, and employment:
           Predicting outcomes for young adults with autism spectrum disorder

    • Authors: Scott H. Yamamoto, Charlotte Y. Alverson
      Abstract: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, Volume 7, Issue , January-December 2022.
      Background and AimsThe fastest growing group of students with disabilities are those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). States annually report on post-high school outcomes (PSO) of exited students. This study sought to fill two gaps in the literature related to PSO for exited high-school students with ASD and the use of state data and predictive modeling.MethodsData from two states were analyzed using two predictive analytics (PA) methods: multilevel logistic regression and machine learning. The receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC) analysis was used to assess predictive performance.ResultsData analyses produced two results. One, the strongest predictor of PSO for exited students with ASD was graduating from high school. Two, machine learning performed better than multilevel logistic regression in predicting PSO engagement across the two states.ConclusionThis study contributed two new and important findings to the literature: (a) PA models should be applied to state PSO data because they produce useful information, and (b) PA models are accurate and reliable over time.ImplicationsThese findings can be used to support state and local educators to make decisions about policies, programs, and practices for exited high school students with ASD, to help them successfully transition to adult life.
      Citation: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments
      PubDate: 2022-04-19T05:58:20Z
      DOI: 10.1177/23969415221095019
      Issue No: Vol. 7 (2022)
  • A robot or a dumper truck' Facilitating play-based social learning
           across neurotypes

    • Authors: Ella Paldam, Andreas Roepstorff, Rikke Steensgaard, Stine Strøm Lundsgaard, Jakob Steensig, Line Gebauer
      Abstract: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, Volume 7, Issue , January-December 2022.
      Structured abstract Background & aimsHow can non-autistic adults facilitate social learning with children on the spectrum' A new theoretical understanding of autism is currently emerging that has made this question more relevant than ever. At the intersection of two growing research areas in the field of autism, the borderland that separates the experience of social interaction between neurotypes is increasingly mapped out. By integrating anthropological research on autistic sociality and the neurocognitive framework of predictive processing, this paper explores the question: If autistic people experience the world in a fundamentally different way, what is a meaningful strategy for supporting them in developing their socialities'MethodsThe paper reports an in-depth analysis of a 2-min sequence in which a non-autistic adult facilitates a collaboration game between three autistic children (8–12 years). The data comes from a participatory research project that develops a new pedagogical approach to social learning based on open-ended construction play. The analytical strategy is informed by conversation analysis.ResultsWe find that the facilitation supports the children in accomplishing social interaction and collaboration, but it also in several instances gives rise to misunderstandings between the children. Whereas the facilitator aims to support the children's direct verbal communication about the construction task, we observe that the children use a broad repertoire of non-direct communication strategies that enables them to coordinate and align their shared process. We find that the children's actions with their hands in the construction task count as turns in the communication. Regarding the play-based learning environment, we find that the children are engaged in the shared construction task and that they competently navigate social tension when it arises without the facilitator's help.ConclusionWe conclude that the misunderstandings between the children created by the facilitation from a non-autistic adult emerge from a discrepancy of attention in the situation. The facilitator focuses on the words, but the children focus on the task. Even though this discrepancy is not necessarily a result of different neurotypes, we find that it emerges from the social dynamics of facilitation by non-autistic adults that is key in many social intervention settings. Furthermore, we conclude that the play-based learning environment enables the facilitator to support the children without directly instructing them in their social behavior. This appears to give the children an opportunity to acquire complex social experiences through their collaboration.ImplicationsThe interaction dynamics in the data clip is shaped by the non-autistic adult's expectations of the children's interaction. This made us wonder whether we can establish a learning environment that begins from the learners’ perspectives instead. The analysis caused us to change the facilitation strategy that we employ in our project. It is our hope that our approach will inspire reflection and curiosity in researchers and practitioners who develop social interventions targeting autistic people.
      Citation: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments
      PubDate: 2022-03-21T04:28:00Z
      DOI: 10.1177/23969415221086714
      Issue No: Vol. 7 (2022)
  • Visual perceptual salience and novel referent selection in children with
           and without autism spectrum disorder

    • Authors: Courtney E. Venker, Dominik Neumann, Fashina Aladé
      Abstract: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, Volume 7, Issue , January-December 2022.
      Background & AimsMany young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) demonstrate striking delays in early vocabulary development. Experimental studies that teach the meanings of novel nonwords can determine the effects of linguistic and attentional factors. One factor that may affect novel referent selection in children with ASD is visual perceptual salience—how interesting (i.e., striking) stimuli are on the basis of their visual properties. The goal of the current study was to determine how the perceptual salience of objects affected novel referent selection in children with ASD and children who are typically developing (TD) of similar ages (mean age 3–4 years).MethodsUsing a screen-based experimental paradigm, children were taught the names of four unfamiliar objects: two high-salience objects and two low-salience objects. Their comprehension of the novel words was assessed in low-difficulty and high-difficulty trials. Gaze location was determined from video by trained research assistants.ResultsContrary to initial predictions, findings indicated that high perceptual salience disrupted novel referent selection in the children with ASD but facilitated attention to the target object in age-matched TD peers. The children with ASD showed no significant evidence of successful novel referent selection in the high-difficulty trials. Exploratory reaction time analyses suggested that the children with autism showed “stickier” attention—had more difficulty disengaging (i.e., looking away)—from high-salience distracter images than low-salience distracter images, even though the two images were balanced in salience for any given test trial.Conclusions and Clinical ImplicationsThese findings add to growing evidence that high perceptual salience has the potential to disrupt novel referent selection in children with ASD. These results underscore the complexity of novel referent selection and highlight the importance of taking the immediate testing context into account. In particular, it is important to acknowledge that screen-based assessments and screen-based learning activities used with children with ASD are not immune to the effects of lower level visual features, such as perceptual salience.
      Citation: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments
      PubDate: 2022-03-18T07:35:13Z
      DOI: 10.1177/23969415221085476
      Issue No: Vol. 7 (2022)
  • Word imageability is associated with expressive vocabulary in children
           with autism spectrum disorder

    • Authors: Kimberly R Lin, Lisa Wisman Weil, Audrey Thurm, Catherine Lord, Rhiannon J Luyster
      Abstract: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, Volume 7, Issue , January-December 2022.
      Background & aimsThroughout typical development, children prioritize different perceptual, social, and linguistic cues to learn words. The earliest acquired words are often those that are perceptually salient and highly imageable. Imageability, the ease in which a word evokes a mental image, is a strong predictor for word age of acquisition in typically developing (TD) children, independent of other lexicosemantic features such as word frequency. However, little is known about the effects of imageability in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), who tend to have differences in linguistic processing and delayed language acquisition compared to their TD peers. This study explores the extent to which imageability and word frequency are associated with early noun and verb acquisition in children with ASD.MethodsSecondary analyses were conducted on previously collected data of 156 children (78 TD, 78 ASD) matched on sex and parent-reported language level. Total expressive vocabulary, as measured by the MacArthur Bates Communicative Development Inventory (MB-CDI), included 123 words (78 nouns, 45 verbs) that overlapped with previously published imageability ratings and word input frequencies. A two-step hierarchical linear regression was used to examine the relationship between word input frequency, imageability, and total expressive vocabulary. An F-test was then used to assess the unique contribution of imageability on total expressive vocabulary when controlling for word input frequency.ResultsIn both the TD and ASD groups, imageability uniquely explained a portion of the variance in total expressive vocabulary size, independent of word input frequency. Notably, imageability was significantly associated with noun vocabulary and verb vocabulary size alone, with imageability explaining a greater portion of the variance in total nouns produced than in total verbs produced.ConclusionsImageability was identified as a significant lexicosemantic feature for describing expressive vocabulary size in children with ASD. Consistent with literature on TD children, children with ASD who have small vocabularies primarily produce words that are highly imageable. Children who are more proficient word learners with larger vocabularies produce words that are less imageable, indicating a potential shift away from reliance on perceptual-based language processing. This was consistent across both noun and verb vocabularies.ImplicationsOur findings contribute to a growing body of literature describing early word learning in children with ASD and provide a basis for exploring the use of multisensory language learning strategies.
      Citation: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments
      PubDate: 2022-03-16T08:31:58Z
      DOI: 10.1177/23969415221085827
      Issue No: Vol. 7 (2022)
  • Play-based interventions for mental health: A systematic review and
           meta-analysis focused on children and adolescents with autism spectrum
           disorder and developmental language disorder

    • Authors: Gill Francis, Emre Deniz, Carole Torgerson, Umar Toseeb
      Abstract: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, Volume 7, Issue , January-December 2022.
      Background and aimsPlay-based interventions are used ubiquitously with children with social, communication, and language needs but the impact of these interventions on the mental health of this group of children is unknown. Despite their pre-existing challenges, the mental health of children with developmental language disorder (DLD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) should be given equal consideration to the other more salient features of their condition. To this aim, a systematic literature review with meta-analysis was undertaken to assess the impact of play-based interventions on mental health outcomes from studies of children with DLD and ASD, as well as to identify the characteristics of research in this field.MethodsThe study used full systematic review design reported to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines (PRISMA prisma-statement.org) with pre-specified inclusion criteria and explicit, transparent and replicable methods at each stage of the review. The study selection process involved a rigorous systematic search of seven academic databases, double screening of abstracts, and full-text screening to identify studies using randomised controlled trial (RCT) and quasi-experimental (QE) designs to assess mental health outcomes from interventions supporting children with DLD and ASD. For reliability, data extraction of included studies, as well as risk of bias assessments were conducted by two study authors. Qualitative data were synthesised narratively and quantified data were used in the metaanalytic calculation.Main contributionA total of 2,882 papers were identified from the literature search which were double screened at the abstract (n  =  1,785) and full-text (n  =  366) levels resulting in 10 papers meeting the criteria for inclusion in the review. There were 8 RCTs and 2 QEs using 7 named play-based interventions with ASD participants only. Meta-analysis of 5 studies addressing positive mental health outcomes (e.g. positive affect and emotional functioning) found a significant overall intervention effect (Cohen's d = 1.60 (95% CI [0.37, 2.82], p = 0.01); meta-analysis of 6 studies addressing negative mental health outcomes (e.g., negative affect, internalising and externalising problems) found a non-significant overall intervention effect (Cohen's d = 0.04 -0.17 (95% CI [-0.04, 0.51], p = 0.88).ConclusionsA key observation is the diversity of study characteristics relating to study sample size, duration of interventions, study settings, background of interventionists, and variability of specific mental health outcomes. Play-based interventions appear to have a beneficial effect on positive, but not negative, mental health in children with ASD. There are no high quality studies investigating the efficacy of such interventions in children with DLD.ImplicationsThis review provides good evidence of the need for further research into how commonly used play-based interventions designed to support the social, communication, and language needs of young people may impact the mental health of children with ASD or DLD.
      Citation: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments
      PubDate: 2022-02-28T11:59:11Z
      DOI: 10.1177/23969415211073118
      Issue No: Vol. 7 (2022)
  • Chasing the conversation: Autistic experiences of speech perception

    • Authors: Alexandra Sturrock, Hannah Guest, Graham Hanks, George Bendo, Christopher J Plack, Emma Gowen
      Abstract: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, Volume 7, Issue , January-December 2022.
      Background and aimsHumans communicate primarily through spoken language and speech perception is a core function of the human auditory system. Among the autistic community, atypical sensory reactivity and social communication difficulties are pervasive, yet the research literature lacks in-depth self-report data on speech perception in this population. The present study aimed to elicit detailed first-person accounts of autistic individuals’ abilities and difficulties perceiving the spoken word.MethodsSemi-structured interviews were conducted with nine autistic adults. The interview schedule addressed interviewees’ experiences of speech perception, factors influencing those experiences, and responses to those experiences. Resulting interview transcripts underwent thematic analysis. The six-person study team included two autistic researchers, to reduce risk of neurotypical ‘overshadowing’ of autistic voices.ResultsMost interviewees reported pronounced difficulties perceiving speech in the presence of competing sounds. They emphasised that such listening difficulties are distinct from social difficulties, though the two can add and interact. Difficulties were of several varieties, ranging from powerful auditory distraction to drowning out of voices by continuous sounds. Contributing factors encompassed not only features of the soundscape but also non-acoustic factors such as multisensory processing and social cognition. Participants also identified compounding factors, such as lack of understanding of listening difficulties. Impacts were diverse and sometimes disabling, affecting socialising, emotions, fatigue, career, and self-image. A wide array of coping mechanisms was described.ConclusionsThe first in-depth qualitative investigation of autistic speech-perception experiences has revealed diverse and widespread listening difficulties. These can combine with other internal, interpersonal, and societal factors to induce profound impacts. Lack of understanding of such listening difficulties – by the self, by communication partners, by institutions, and especially by clinicians – appears to be a crucial exacerbating factor. Many autistic adults have developed coping strategies to lessen speech-perception difficulties or mitigate their effects, and these are generally self-taught due to lack of clinical support.ImplicationsThere is a need for carefully designed, adequately powered confirmatory research to verify, quantify, and disentangle the various forms of listening difficulty, preferably using large samples to explore heterogeneity. More immediate benefit might be obtained through development of self-help and clinical guidance materials, and by raising awareness of autistic listening experiences and needs, among the autistic community, communication partners, institutions, and clinicians.
      Citation: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments
      PubDate: 2022-02-24T05:12:34Z
      DOI: 10.1177/23969415221077532
      Issue No: Vol. 7 (2022)
  • The contributions of immediate retrieval and spaced retrieval to word
           learning in preschoolers with developmental language disorder

    • Authors: Laurence B. Leonard, Justin B. Kueser, Patricia Deevy, Eileen Haebig, Jeffrey D. Karpicke, Christine Weber
      Abstract: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, Volume 7, Issue , January-December 2022.
      Background and AimsChildren with developmental language disorder (DLD) benefit from word learning procedures that include a mix of immediate retrieval and spaced retrieval trials. In this study, we examine the relative contribution of these two types of retrieval.MethodsWe examine data from Haebig et al. (2019) in their study that compared an immediate retrieval condition and a condition of spaced retrieval that also included immediate retrieval trials. Participants were 4- and 5-year old children with DLD and same-age peers with typical language development. Each child learned novel (made-up) words referring to unusual plants and animals in both conditions. We examined the phonetic accuracy of the novel words used during the final learning trial and during recall tests 5 min and 1 week after learning.ResultsOn the final learning trial, the children were more phonetically accurate in using the novel words learned in the immediate retrieval condition. However, recall tests after the learning trials revealed a decrease in accuracy, especially for the children with DLD. After one week, accuracy was much lower for words in the immediate retrieval condition than for words in the mixed spaced-plus-immediate retrieval condition. For words learned in the mixed spaced-plus-immediate retrieval condition, accuracy was very stable across time for both groups.ConclusionsImmediate retrieval boosts the phonetic accuracy of new words in the short term but spaced retrieval promotes stability and increases the likelihood that short-term gains are maintained.Implications: When novel word learning is assessed at the level of phonetic accuracy, children with DLD can show declines over time not characteristic of children with typical language development. Spaced retrieval procedures augmented by immediate retrieval opportunities during learning appear to prevent such declines, leading to longer-lasting gains.
      Citation: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments
      PubDate: 2022-02-10T03:32:14Z
      DOI: 10.1177/23969415221077652
      Issue No: Vol. 7 (2022)
  • Solitary symbolic play, object substitution and peer role play skills at
           age 3 predict different aspects of age 7 structural language abilities in
           a matched sample of autistic and non-autistic children

    • Authors: Yiran Vicky Zhao, Jenny Louise Gibson
      Abstract: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, Volume 7, Issue , January-December 2022.
      Backgrounds and aimsEarly symbolic play abilities are closely related to long-term language development for both autistic and non-autistic children, but few studies have explored these relations for different dimensions of pretence and of language. The current study explores carer-reported measures of solitary symbolic play, object substitution and peer role play abilities at age 3, and their respective relations with parent-reported semantics, syntax and narrative abilities at age 7 for both autistic and non-autistic children.MethodsWe conducted secondary data analyses exploring links between different aspects of pretence and of language on the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children population cohort. We identified 92 autistic children and used propensity score matching to match them with 92 non-autistic children based on demographic and developmental information such as non-verbal IQ and socioeconomic status. We explored concurrent and longitudinal relations using correlation and regression models. Results: Both correlational and hierarchical regression analyses confirmed the significant effects of age 3 symbolic play abilities in facilitating age 7 semantics, syntax and narrative abilities for autistic children. We found that object substitution held most prominent influence, followed by peer role play and solitary symbolic play. In contrast, for non-autistic children, none of the age 3 symbolic play abilities were significant predictors, whereas socioeconomic status at birth and age 3 language abilities held significant influences on their age 7 semantics, syntax and narrative abilities. Conclusion: We discuss the implications of our findings for play interventions targeting language outcomes.
      Citation: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments
      PubDate: 2022-01-12T02:53:52Z
      DOI: 10.1177/23969415211063822
      Issue No: Vol. 7 (2022)
  • Parent perceptions of a group telepractice communication intervention for

    • Authors: Robyn Garnett, Bronwyn Davidson, Patricia Eadie
      Abstract: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, Volume 7, Issue , January-December 2022.
      Background & AimsEstimates suggest that one in 59 children receive a diagnosis of autism and that early intervention can be effective if applied consistently and intensively. Parent implemented intervention can increase intervention consistency and intensity however, availability of providers, geographical factors, time constraints, and parental stress levels can all act as barriers to service access. Limitations in understanding elements that support family engagement can also impact participation in intervention. Telepractice can increase availability of intervention services and decrease the time and costs associated with face-to-face delivery. Research focused on children with autism has shown that telepractice is acceptable to parents. Despite positive findings for telepractice services with individual clients, limited research has been conducted on telepractice services for parent groups; parent perceptions and preferences regarding intervention; and service delivery methods. This research aimed to investigate parent perceptions of a group intervention programme for autism; the telepractice approach; parent and child outcomes; and parental stress. The purpose of the investigation was to build an understanding of parent's intervention preferences to inform future service offerings, increase choice, and support participation.MethodsEleven parents of preschool children with autism participated in a telepractice delivered group training programme called Hanen More Than Words (HMTW). The intervention is traditionally delivered face to face and teaches strategies to facilitate social-communication development in young children.Quantitative and qualitative measures were used to evaluate parent perceptions of the telepractice HMTW intervention. Data were collected via the Parenting Stress Index, HMTW programme evaluation forms, and online parent survey.Quantitative data was analysed using descriptive statistics. Pre- and post-intervention comparisons of parenting stress were conducted using paired T-Tests. Open comment field responses were analysed qualitatively using a directed content analysis.ResultsParents reported high levels of satisfaction with telepractice delivered HMTW across intervention and post programme evaluations. Interactive learning opportunities, group participation, video coaching, individualisation of service, and programme facilitation were identified as key supports to learning.Parents perceived increased insight into the interaction, learning, and behaviour of themselves and their children. They reported positive changes in strategy implementation and confidence. Parents also perceived improvements in their children's communication, responsiveness, interaction, and play following intervention. Parental stress measurements from pre- to post intervention, were not significantly different.ConclusionsTelepractice may reduce service barriers and improve access, particularly with the efficiency of a group delivery approach. Utilising technology to deliver group intervention was acceptable to parents and perceived to have positive outcomes for both parent and child. Further investigation into parent perceptions of intervention types and delivery approaches, could facilitate a broader understanding of family needs with respect to service access and engagement.ImplicationsExpansion of telepractice offerings can increase efficiencies and service choice for families and providers. Limitations in service availability and barriers to service access and engagement, confirm the importance of pursuing ongoing service improvements and evaluating the preferences of service users. Development of standardised tools to measure and compare parent perceptions across intervention types and service delivery approaches would be beneficial.
      Citation: Autism & Developmental Language Impairments
      PubDate: 2022-01-06T12:05:01Z
      DOI: 10.1177/23969415211070127
      Issue No: Vol. 7 (2022)
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