Lexical Characteristics of Expressive Vocabulary in Toddlers With Autism Spectrum Disorder Purpose Vocabulary is a domain of particular challenge for many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Recent research has drawn attention to ways in which lexical characteristics relate to vocabulary acquisition. The current study tested the hypothesis that lexical characteristics account for variability in vocabulary size of young children with ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 2014
Lexical Characteristics of Expressive Vocabulary in Toddlers With Autism Spectrum Disorder
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Sara T. Kover
    Waisman Center and University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Susan Ellis Weismer
    Waisman Center and University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Sara T. Kover is now at the University of Washington, Seattle.
    Sara T. Kover is now at the University of Washington, Seattle.×
  • Correspondence to Sara T. Kover: skover@u.washington.edu
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Linda Watson
    Associate Editor: Linda Watson×
Article Information
Development / Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 2014
Lexical Characteristics of Expressive Vocabulary in Toddlers With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2014, Vol. 57, 1428-1441. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-L-13-0006
History: Received January 5, 2013 , Revised June 29, 2013 , Accepted December 14, 2013
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2014, Vol. 57, 1428-1441. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-L-13-0006
History: Received January 5, 2013; Revised June 29, 2013; Accepted December 14, 2013
Web of Science® Times Cited: 3

Purpose Vocabulary is a domain of particular challenge for many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Recent research has drawn attention to ways in which lexical characteristics relate to vocabulary acquisition. The current study tested the hypothesis that lexical characteristics account for variability in vocabulary size of young children with ASD, applying the extended statistical learning theory of vocabulary delay in late talkers (Stokes, Kern, & Dos Santos, 2012) to toddlers with ASD.

Method Parents reported the words produced by toddlers with ASD (n = 57; age 21–37 months) or toddlers without ASD (n = 41; age 22–26 months) on the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories. The average phonological neighborhood density, word frequency, and word length of each toddler's lexicon were calculated. These lexical characteristics served as predictors of vocabulary size.

Results Findings differed for toddlers with and without ASD and according to subsamples. Word length was the most consistent predictor of vocabulary size for toddlers with ASD.

Conclusions Distinct relationships between lexical characteristics and vocabulary size were observed for toddlers with and without ASD. Experimental studies on distributional cues to vocabulary acquisition are needed to inform what is known about mechanisms of learning in neurodevelopmental disorders.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants R01 DC07223, R01 DC03731, T32 DC05359 (Susan Ellis Weismer, principal investigator [PI]), and P30 HD03352 (Marsha Mailick, PI). We offer sincere appreciation to the families who participated in this study. A portion of these data was presented at the 2013 biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development in Seattle, Washington.
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