Article  |   October 2009
Behavior Predictors of Language Development Over 2 Years in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Karen D. Bopp
    The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  • Pat Mirenda
    The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  • Bruno D. Zumbo
    The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  • Contact author: Karen D. Bopp, The University of British Columbia, 2125 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6T 1Z4. E-mail: bopp@interchange.ubc.ca.
  • © 2009 American Speech-Language-Hearing AssociationAmerican Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Article Information
Development / Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language
Article   |   October 2009
Behavior Predictors of Language Development Over 2 Years in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2009, Vol. 52, 1106-1120. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/07-0262)
History: Received November 27, 2007 , Revised April 10, 2008 , Accepted January 13, 2009
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2009, Vol. 52, 1106-1120. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/07-0262)
History: Received November 27, 2007; Revised April 10, 2008; Accepted January 13, 2009
Web of Science® Times Cited: 8

Purpose: This exploratory study examined predictive relationships between 5 types of behaviors and the trajectories of vocabulary and language development in young children with autism over 2 years.

Method: Participants were 69 children with autism assessed using standardized measures prior to the initiation of early intervention (T1) and 6 months (T2), 12 months (T3), and 24 months (T4) later. Growth curve modeling examined the extent to which behaviors at T1 and changes in behaviors between T1 and T2 predicted changes in development from T1 to T4.

Results: Regardless of T1 nonverbal IQ and autism severity, high scores for inattentive behaviors at T1 predicted lower rates of change in vocabulary production and language comprehension over 2 years. High scores for social unresponsiveness at T1 predicted lower rates of change in vocabulary comprehension and production and in language comprehension over 2 years. Scores for insistence on sameness behaviors, repetitive stereotypic motor behaviors, and acting-out behaviors at T1 did not predict the rate of change of any child measure over 2 years beyond differences accounted for by T1 autism severity and nonverbal IQ status.

Conclusions: The results are discussed with regard to their implications for early intervention and understanding the complex factors that affect developmental outcomes.

Acknowledgments
This research was completed by the first author in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a doctoral degree at the University of British Columbia. Portions of this research were presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Seattle, May 2007; the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association conference in Chicago, November 2008; and on a public webcast at http://breeze.setbc.org/p65709571/. We are grateful to the children and families who participated in this study and to the many evaluators who were involved in data collection. Partial funding was provided by the Human Early Learning Partnership, the BC Ministry for Children and Family Development, and the National Alliance for Autism Research/Autism Speaks postdoctoral fellowship program.
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