The Shape Bias in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: Potential Sources of Individual Differences Purpose Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) demonstrate many mechanisms of lexical acquisition that support language in typical development; however, 1 notable exception is the shape bias. The bases of these children's difficulties with the shape bias are not well understood, and the current study explored potential sources of individual ... Review Article
Review Article  |   November 08, 2018
The Shape Bias in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: Potential Sources of Individual Differences
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ahmed Abdelaziz
    University of Connecticut, Storrs
  • Sara T. Kover
    Department of Speech & Hearing Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle
  • Manuela Wagner
    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 Ahmed Abdelaziz: ahmed.abdel_aziz@uconn.edu
  • Editor-in-Chief: Sean Redmond
    Editor-in-Chief: Sean Redmond×
  • Editor: Helen Tager-Flusberg
    Editor: Helen Tager-Flusberg×
  • Publisher Note: This article is part of the Research Forum: Advances in Autism Research: From Learning Mechanisms to Novel Interventions.
    Publisher Note: This article is part of the Research Forum: Advances in Autism Research: From Learning Mechanisms to Novel Interventions.×
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Research Forum: Advances in Autism Research: From Learning Mechanisms to Novel Interventions / Review Articles
Review Article   |   November 08, 2018
The Shape Bias in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder: Potential Sources of Individual Differences
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, November 2018, Vol. 61, 2685-2702. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-L-RSAUT-18-0027
History: Received January 25, 2018 , Revised May 8, 2018 , Accepted August 15, 2018
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, November 2018, Vol. 61, 2685-2702. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-L-RSAUT-18-0027
History: Received January 25, 2018; Revised May 8, 2018; Accepted August 15, 2018

Purpose Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) demonstrate many mechanisms of lexical acquisition that support language in typical development; however, 1 notable exception is the shape bias. The bases of these children's difficulties with the shape bias are not well understood, and the current study explored potential sources of individual differences from the perspectives of both attentional and conceptual accounts of the shape bias.

Method Shape bias performance from the dataset of Potrzeba, Fein, and Naigles (2015) was analyzed, including 33 children with typical development (M = 20 months; SD = 1.6), 15 children with ASD with high verbal abilities (M = 33 months; SD = 4.6), and 14 children with ASD with low verbal abilities (M = 33 months; SD = 6.6). Lexical predictors (shape-side noun percentage from the MacArthur–Bates Communicative Development Inventory; Fenson et al., 2007) and social-pragmatic predictors (joint attention duration during play sessions) were considered as predictors of subsequent shape bias performance.

Results For children in the low verbal ASD group, initiation of joint attention (positively) and passive attention (negatively) predicted subsequent shape bias performance, controlling for initial language and developmental level. Proportion of child's known nouns with shape-defined properties correlated negatively with shape bias performance in the high verbal ASD group but did not reach significance in regression models.

Conclusions These findings suggest that no single account sufficiently explains the observed individual differences in shape bias performance in children with ASD. Nonetheless, these findings break new ground in highlighting the role of social communicative interactions as integral to understanding specific language outcomes (i.e., the shape bias) in children with ASD, especially those with low verbal abilities, and point to new hypotheses concerning the linguistic content of these interactions.

Presentation Video https://doi.org/10.23641/asha.7299581

Acknowledgments
This article stems from the 2017 Research Symposium at ASHA Convention, which was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders under Award R13DC003383. This research was also supported by Award R01DC007428 to the last author. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. Thanks are also due to Saime Tek, who contributed much of the joint attention coding reported here, and to the members of the UConn Child Language Lab for their roles in data collection, transcription, and reliability coding.
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