Prelinguistic Predictors of Vocabulary in Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders Purpose: The goal of the current study was to identify a predictive model of vocabulary comprehension and production in a group of young children with autism spectrum disorders. Four prelinguistic behaviors were selected for consideration as predictors based on theoretical and empirical support for the relationship of these behaviors to ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 2005
Prelinguistic Predictors of Vocabulary in Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Andrea McDuffie
    Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin—Madison
  • Paul Yoder
    Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
  • Wendy Stone
    Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, Nashville, TN
Article Information
Development / Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 2005
Prelinguistic Predictors of Vocabulary in Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2005, Vol. 48, 1080-1097. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2005/075)
History: Received October 4, 2004 , Accepted February 24, 2005
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2005, Vol. 48, 1080-1097. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2005/075)
History: Received October 4, 2004; Accepted February 24, 2005
Web of Science® Times Cited: 52

Purpose: The goal of the current study was to identify a predictive model of vocabulary comprehension and production in a group of young children with autism spectrum disorders. Four prelinguistic behaviors were selected for consideration as predictors based on theoretical and empirical support for the relationship of these behaviors to language development.

Method: The study used a longitudinal correlational design. Participants were twenty-nine 2- and 3-year-olds diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. The prelinguistic behaviors—attention-following, motor imitation, commenting, and requesting—were measured at the initial visit. Vocabulary comprehension and production were measured 6 months later.

Results: Commenting was the only unique predictor of comprehension after the degree of cognitive delay was controlled. Both commenting and motor imitation of actions without objects were unique predictors of production over and above the other skills and when the degree of cognitive delay was controlled.

Conclusions: The finding that both commenting and motor imitation simultaneously accounted for unique variance in vocabulary production is new to the literature and requires replication. However, results suggest that increasing behaviors that allow children with autism to make their current focus of attention obvious to social partners may be an effective approach for supporting word learning in young children with autism.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant R21 HD42437 to Dr. Wendy Stone and a Doctoral Scholars Grant to the first author from the Bamford-Lahey Children’s Foundation. The authors sincerely appreciate the cooperation of the parents and children who participated in this research. The first author also acknowledges with gratitude the contributions of Jon Tapp and Amy Swanson to the completion of this project.
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