Grammar in Boys With Idiopathic Autism Spectrum Disorder and Boys With Fragile X Syndrome Plus Autism Spectrum Disorder Purpose Some boys with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and boys with fragile X syndrome and a codiagnosis of ASD (FXS+ASD) have impairments in expressive grammatical abilities. The current study compared grammatical performance in these 2 groups of school-age boys. Method Thirty-seven boys similar on mean length of utterance ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 17, 2018
Grammar in Boys With Idiopathic Autism Spectrum Disorder and Boys With Fragile X Syndrome Plus Autism Spectrum Disorder
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Audra Sterling
    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • 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 Audra Sterling: audra.sterling@wisc.edu
  • Editor-in-Chief: Sean Redmond
    Editor-in-Chief: Sean Redmond×
  • Editor: Geralyn Timler
    Editor: Geralyn Timler×
Article Information
Special Populations / Genetic & Congenital Disorders / Autism Spectrum / Language Disorders / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 17, 2018
Grammar in Boys With Idiopathic Autism Spectrum Disorder and Boys With Fragile X Syndrome Plus Autism Spectrum Disorder
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2018, Vol. 61, 857-869. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-17-0248
History: Received June 23, 2017 , Revised October 3, 2017 , Accepted November 15, 2017
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2018, Vol. 61, 857-869. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-17-0248
History: Received June 23, 2017; Revised October 3, 2017; Accepted November 15, 2017

Purpose Some boys with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and boys with fragile X syndrome and a codiagnosis of ASD (FXS+ASD) have impairments in expressive grammatical abilities. The current study compared grammatical performance in these 2 groups of school-age boys.

Method Thirty-seven boys similar on mean length of utterance participated in the current study (FXS: n = 19, ASD: n = 18). Participants completed an ASD assessment, nonverbal IQ testing, and conversation language samples. Convergent validity of a sentence imitation task with a norm-referenced assessment of grammar was examined in addition to divergent validity of the measures with nonverbal IQ and vocabulary comprehension and production.

Results The boys with ASD outperformed the boys with FXS+ASD on the norm-referenced assessment of “be,” and effect sizes indicate that the boys with ASD had better performance on past tense probes on the sentence imitation task and “do” on the norm-referenced assessment. The two measures of grammar had good convergent validity except for copula and auxiliary “be” and “do.” Grammatical performance was not correlated with nonverbal IQ, and trends indicate a relationship between vocabulary and grammar.

Conclusions Despite being similar on mean length of utterance, there were group differences on grammatical performance. The sentence imitation task had good convergent validity with a norm-referenced assessment of grammar for the third-person singular and past tense probes and therefore could be an inexpensive and valid tool to use clinically for these populations. Future research should continue to refine this task, particularly for the probes with high rates of unscorable responses (i.e., “be” and “do”).

Acknowledgments
This research is supported in part by Grants R03 DC011616 (principal investigator: Sterling) and P30 HD03352 (principal investigator: Albee Messing), as well as start-up funds from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (awarded to Sterling). The author would like to thank the children and families who participated in this research. The author would also like to thank Leonard Abbeduto for his input on the design of the study; Susan Ellis Weismer and Jill Hoover for their thoughtful commentary on this article; Eileen Haebig for her key role in data collection, and transcription and coding of the data; and Susen Schroeder, Sara Kover, Courtney Venker, Rachel Brewer, Michelle Kletzien, Erin Schwartz, Courtney Ramczyk, Holly Erbstoesser, Laura Friedman, and Kirsten Larson for their assistance with, recruitment, transcription and data entry.
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