Article  |   June 2009
Defining Spoken Language Benchmarks and Selecting Measures of Expressive Language Development for Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders
 
Author Notes
  • Contact author: Helen Tager-Flusberg, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Boston University School of Medicine, 715 Albany Street L-814, Boston, MA 02118. E-mail: htagerf@bu.edu.
Article Information
Development / Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Language Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language
Article   |   June 2009
Defining Spoken Language Benchmarks and Selecting Measures of Expressive Language Development for Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2009, Vol. 52, 643-652. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/08-0136)
History: Received July 8, 2008 , Accepted October 31, 2008
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2009, Vol. 52, 643-652. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/08-0136)
History: Received July 8, 2008; Accepted October 31, 2008
Web of Science® Times Cited: 35

Purpose: The aims of this article are twofold: (a) to offer a set of recommended measures that can be used for evaluating the efficacy of interventions that target spoken language acquisition as part of treatment research studies or for use in applied settings and (b) to propose and define a common terminology for describing levels of spoken language ability in the expressive modality and to set benchmarks for determining a child’s language level in order to establish a framework for comparing outcomes across intervention studies.

Method: The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders assembled a group of researchers with interests and experience in the study of language development and disorders in young children with autism spectrum disorders. The group worked for 18 months through a series of conference calls and correspondence, culminating in a meeting held in December 2007 to achieve consensus on these aims.

Results: The authors recommend moving away from using the term functional speech, replacing it with a developmental framework. Rather, they recommend multiple sources of information to define language phases, including natural language samples, parent report, and standardized measures. They also provide guidelines and objective criteria for defining children’s spoken language expression in three major phases that correspond to developmental levels between 12 and 48 months of age.

Acknowledgments
Support for the preparation of this report was provided by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and by Autism Speaks. We are especially grateful to Andy Shih and Alycia Halladay of Autism Speaks for their support of this project.
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