Grammatical Aspect Is a Strength in the Language Comprehension of Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder Purpose The comprehension of tense/aspect morphology by children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) was assessed via Intermodal Preferential Looking (IPL) to determine whether this population's difficulties with producing these morphemes extended to their comprehension. Method Four-year-old participants were assessed twice, 4 months apart. They viewed a video that ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2015
Grammatical Aspect Is a Strength in the Language Comprehension of Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Andrea T. Tovar
    University of Connecticut, Storrs
  • Deborah Fein
    University of Connecticut, Storrs
  • Letitia R. Naigles
    University of Connecticut, Storrs
  • 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 Letitia R. Naigles: letitia.naigles@uconn.edu
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Joanne Volden
    Associate Editor: Joanne Volden×
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Normal Language Processing / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2015
Grammatical Aspect Is a Strength in the Language Comprehension of Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2015, Vol. 58, 301-310. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-L-13-0257
History: Received September 23, 2013 , Revised April 18, 2014 , Accepted October 1, 2014
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2015, Vol. 58, 301-310. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-L-13-0257
History: Received September 23, 2013; Revised April 18, 2014; Accepted October 1, 2014
Web of Science® Times Cited: 4

Purpose The comprehension of tense/aspect morphology by children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) was assessed via Intermodal Preferential Looking (IPL) to determine whether this population's difficulties with producing these morphemes extended to their comprehension.

Method Four-year-old participants were assessed twice, 4 months apart. They viewed a video that presented side-by-side ongoing and completed events paired with familiar verbs with past tense and progressive morphology. Their eye movements were recorded and coded offline; the IPL measures included percentage of looking time at, and latency of first look to, the matching scene. Spontaneous speech samples were also obtained and coded for number of words, past tense, and progressive inflections.

Results Relative to their baseline preferences, these 4-year-old children with ASD looked more quickly to and longer at the matching scene for both morphemes. Children who produced more words, including progressive and past morphemes, and those who performed better on standardized language assessments demonstrated better comprehension of –ing.

Conclusions Overall, these children with ASD demonstrated consistent comprehension of grammatical aspect morphology; moreover, their degree of comprehension was found to correlate with spontaneous production and standardized test scores.

Acknowledgments
This research was funded by a National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant R01 DC007428) to L. Naigles. We extend our gratitude to Rose Jaffery and Janina Piotroski for assistance in data collection; to Emma Kelty-Stephen for her feedback on data analysis; to the undergraduates of the UConn Child Language Lab for transcribing play sessions and providing assistance throughout the filming of the Intermodal Preferential Looking paradigm; and to Christian Navarro-Torres, Laura Mesite, and Saime Tek for parsing many of the children's utterances. We appreciate the helpful feedback we received from attendees of IMFAR 2012 in Toronto and SRCD 2013 in Seattle, WA. Finally, we also thank the children and families who participated in the study.
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