A Duck Wearing Boots?! Pragmatic Language Strategies for Repairing Communication Breakdowns Across Genetically Based Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Purpose The ability to repair breakdowns in communication is an important pragmatic language skill that helps to maintain clear and meaningful interactions. Examining this ability in genetically based neurodevelopmental disabilities in which pragmatics are affected can provide important information about the precise pragmatic skills impacted across different populations and also ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 19, 2018
A Duck Wearing Boots?! Pragmatic Language Strategies for Repairing Communication Breakdowns Across Genetically Based Neurodevelopmental Disabilities
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jamie Barstein
    Roxelyn and Richard Pepper Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
  • Gary E. Martin
    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, St. John's University, Staten Island, NY
  • Michelle Lee
    Roxelyn and Richard Pepper Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
  • Molly Losh
    Roxelyn and Richard Pepper Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
  • 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 Molly Losh: m-losh@northwestern.edu
  • Editor-in-Chief: Sean Redmond
    Editor-in-Chief: Sean Redmond×
  • Editor: Margaret Kjelgaard
    Editor: Margaret Kjelgaard×
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Language Disorders / Social Communication & Pragmatics Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 19, 2018
A Duck Wearing Boots?! Pragmatic Language Strategies for Repairing Communication Breakdowns Across Genetically Based Neurodevelopmental Disabilities
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2018, Vol. 61, 1440-1454. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-L-17-0064
History: Received February 13, 2017 , Revised July 24, 2017 , Accepted February 28, 2018
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2018, Vol. 61, 1440-1454. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-L-17-0064
History: Received February 13, 2017; Revised July 24, 2017; Accepted February 28, 2018

Purpose The ability to repair breakdowns in communication is an important pragmatic language skill that helps to maintain clear and meaningful interactions. Examining this ability in genetically based neurodevelopmental disabilities in which pragmatics are affected can provide important information about the precise pragmatic skills impacted across different populations and also help to identify core mechanisms underlying pragmatic impairment that may inform tailored interventions.

Method Individuals with idiopathic autism spectrum disorder (ASD-O; n = 40), fragile X syndrome with comorbid autism spectrum disorder (FXS-ASD; n = 62), FXS without ASD (FXS-O; n = 38), Down syndrome (DS; n = 43), and typical development (TD; n = 42) completed a picture description task in which an examiner prompted for clarification repeatedly to elicit communication repair attempts. Participants' response strategies were compared across diagnostic groups and by sex and examined in relationship to different cognitive abilities.

Results Relatively few group differences were observed in responses to requests for clarification overall. Males with ASD-O responded less to clarification requests than males with FXS-ASD and FXS-O, and males with FXS-ASD responded more inappropriately than males with ASD-O and DS. All male groups became less responsive to prompts for communication repair across the series of requests. Males with TD and FXS-ASD used less effective strategies than females.

Conclusion All groups showed some proficiency in repairing communication breakdowns, although individuals with ASD-O and FXS-ASD demonstrated some key areas of difficulty, highlighting the importance of considering ASD symptomatology in assessment and treatment of males with FXS. Findings also suggest that, across groups, multiple requests for clarification may lead to disengagement from the interaction. Finally, correlated skills observed across groups could implicate different underlying skills related to communication repair abilities across groups.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by Grants R01 HD038819 (Joanne Roberts), R01 HD044935 (Joanne Roberts), R01 MH091131 (Molly Losh), and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Grant DGE-1324585 (Jamie Barstein). The authors also acknowledge the Research Participant Registry Core of the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities, Grant Award P30 HD03110, and the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. The authors are grateful to Laura Henry, Kate Bouser, Ramsey Cardwell, Elena Lamarche, and Jan Misenheimer for their assistance with data processing and management. The authors are especially grateful to the families who participated in this research study. The authors would also like to acknowledge the late Joanne Roberts, who was awarded the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development grants that supported the initial phases of this research.
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