Use of the ADOS for Assessing Spontaneous Expressive Language in Young Children With ASD: A Comparison of Sampling Contexts Purpose The current study compared the spontaneous expressive language of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) across multiple language sampling contexts: the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS; Lord, Rutter, DiLavore, & Risi, 1999) and play with an examiner or parent. Method Participants were children with ASD (n = ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 2014
Use of the ADOS for Assessing Spontaneous Expressive Language in Young Children With ASD: A Comparison of Sampling Contexts
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Sara T. Kover
    University of Wisconsin—Madison
  • Meghan M. Davidson
    University of Wisconsin—Madison
  • Heidi A. Sindberg
    University of Wisconsin—Madison
  • Susan Ellis Weismer
    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.×
  • Correspondence to Sara T. Kover, who is now at the University of Washington, Seattle: skover@u.washington.edu
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Thomas Klee
    Associate Editor: Thomas Klee×
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 2014
Use of the ADOS for Assessing Spontaneous Expressive Language in Young Children With ASD: A Comparison of Sampling Contexts
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2014, Vol. 57, 2221-2233. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-L-13-0330
History: Received December 11, 2013 , Revised May 28, 2014 , Accepted August 1, 2014
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2014, Vol. 57, 2221-2233. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-L-13-0330
History: Received December 11, 2013; Revised May 28, 2014; Accepted August 1, 2014
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1

Purpose The current study compared the spontaneous expressive language of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) across multiple language sampling contexts: the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS; Lord, Rutter, DiLavore, & Risi, 1999) and play with an examiner or parent.

Method Participants were children with ASD (n = 63; 55 boys) with a mean age of 45 months (SD = 3.94, range = 37–53). The number of utterances produced; percentage of intelligible utterances; number of different words; mean length of utterance; and the number of requests, comments, and instances of turn-taking were calculated for the ADOS, examiner–child play, and parent–child play. Children were categorized into Tager-Flusberg et al.'s (2009)  developmental language phases for each context.

Results Effects of sampling context were identified for all variables examined. The ADOS resulted in fewer utterances and lower structural and pragmatic language performance than examiner–child play and/or parent–child play. Categorization of children into language phases differed across contexts.

Conclusions Use of the ADOS as a language sampling context may lead to underestimating the abilities of young children with ASD relative to play with an examiner or parent. Researchers and clinicians should be aware of context effects, particularly for assessments designed to observe autism symptoms.

Acknowledgments
Preliminary data were presented at the June 2013 Symposium on Research in Child Language Disorders (Madison, WI). This research was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants R01 DC07223 (Susan Ellis Weismer, Principal Investigator [PI]), T32 DC05359 (Susan Ellis Weismer, PI), and P30 HD03352 (Marsha Mailick, PI). We are grateful to the families and children who participated in this research. We offer special thanks to Madeleine Swenson, Sarah Allen, and Jane Hohman for their tireless efforts in transcription and coding.
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