Risk Factors Associated With Language in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Clues to Underlying Mechanisms Purpose Identifying risk factors associated with neurodevelopmental disorders is an important line of research, as it will lead to earlier identification of children who could benefit from interventions that support optimal developmental outcomes. The primary goal of this review was to summarize research on risk factors associated with autism spectrum ... Research Forum
Research Forum  |   February 01, 2016
Risk Factors Associated With Language in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Clues to Underlying Mechanisms
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Helen Tager-Flusberg
    Boston University, MA
  • Disclosure: The author has declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The author has declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Helen Tager-Flusberg: htagerf@bu.edu
  • Editor and Associate Editor: Mabel Rice
    Editor and Associate Editor: Mabel Rice×
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Research Forum: SLI, ADHD, ASD, CI, Bilingualism, and Bidialectism
Research Forum   |   February 01, 2016
Risk Factors Associated With Language in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Clues to Underlying Mechanisms
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2016, Vol. 59, 143-154. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-15-0146
History: Received April 16, 2015 , Revised June 4, 2015 , Accepted June 9, 2015
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2016, Vol. 59, 143-154. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-15-0146
History: Received April 16, 2015; Revised June 4, 2015; Accepted June 9, 2015

Purpose Identifying risk factors associated with neurodevelopmental disorders is an important line of research, as it will lead to earlier identification of children who could benefit from interventions that support optimal developmental outcomes. The primary goal of this review was to summarize research on risk factors associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Method The review focused on studies of infants who have older siblings with ASD, with particular emphasis on risk factors associated with language impairment that affects the majority of children with ASD. Findings from this body of work were compared to the literature on specific language impairment.

Results A wide range of risk factors has been found for ASD, including demographic (e.g., male, family history), behavioral (e.g., gesture, motor) and neural risk markers (e.g., atypical lateralization for speech and reduced functional connectivity). Environmental factors, such as caregiver interaction, have not been found to predict language outcomes. Many of the risk markers for ASD are also found in studies of risk for specific language impairment, including demographic, behavioral, and neural factors.

Conclusions There are significant gaps in the literature and limitations in the current research that preclude direct cross-syndrome comparisons. Future research directions are outlined that could address these limitations.

Acknowledgment
Funding for this Research Forum article was provided by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant RO1 DC 10290, awarded to Helen Tager-Flusberg and Charles A. Nelson.
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