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Purpose This study examined the impact of home use of remote microphone systems (RMSs) on caregiver communication and child vocalizations in families of children with hearing loss. Method We drew on data from a prior study in which Language ENvironmental Analysis recorders were used with 9 families during 2 consecutive weekends-1 that involved using an RMS and 1 that did not. Audio samples from Language ENvironmental Analysis recorders were (a) manually coded to quantify the frequency of verbal repetitions and alert phrases caregivers utilized in communicating to children with hearing loss and (b) automatically analyzed to quantify children's vocalization rate, duration, complexity, and reciprocity when using and not using an RMS. Results When using an RMS at home, caregivers did not repeat or clarify their statements as often as when not using an RMS while communicating with their children with hearing loss. However, no between-condition differences were observed in children's vocal characteristics. Conclusions Results provide further support for home RMS use for children with hearing loss. Specifically, findings lend empirical support to prior parental reports suggesting that RMS use eases caregiver communication in the home setting. Studies exploring RMS use over a longer duration of time might provide further insight into potential long-term effects on children's vocal production.
Purpose We examined associations between vocal communication with canonical syllables and expressive language and then examined 2 potential alternative explanations for such associations. Method Specifically, we tested whether the associations remained when excluding canonical syllables in identifiable words and controlling for the number of communication acts. Participants included 68 preverbal or low verbal children with autism spectrum disorder ( = 35.26 months). Results Vocal communication with canonical syllables and expressive language were concurrently and longitudinally associated with moderate to strong (s = .13-.70) and significant (s < .001) effect sizes. Even when excluding spoken words from the vocal predictor and controlling for the number of communication acts, vocal communication with canonical syllables predicted expressive language. Conclusions The findings provide increased support for measuring vocal communication with canonical syllables and for examining a causal relation between vocal communication with canonical syllables and expressive language in children with ASD who are preverbal or low verbal. In future studies, it may be unnecessary to eliminate identifiable words when measuring vocal communication in this population. Following replication, vocal communication with canonical syllables may be considered when making intervention- planning decisions.
Purpose The impact of home use of a remote microphone system (RMS) on the caregiver production of, and child access to, child-directed speech (CDS) in families with a young child with hearing loss was investigated. Method We drew upon extant data that were collected via Language ENvironment Analysis (LENA) recorders used with 9 families during 2 consecutive weekends (RMS weekend and no-RMS weekend). Audio recordings of primary caregivers and their children with hearing loss obtained while wearing and not wearing an RMS were manually coded to estimate the amount of CDS produced. The proportion of CDS that was likely accessible to children with hearing loss under both conditions was determined. Results Caregivers produced the same amount of CDS when using and when not using the RMS. However, it was concluded that children with hearing loss, on average, could potentially access 12% more CDS if caregivers used an RMS because of their distance from their children when talking to them. Conclusion Given our understanding of typical child language development, findings from this investigation suggest that children with hearing loss could receive auditory, speech, and language benefits from the use of an RMS in the home environment.
Purpose The purpose of this study was to evaluate if higher quantity, diversity, and grammatical informativeness of verb phrases in parent follow-in utterances (i.e., utterances that mapped onto child attentional leads) were significantly related to later expressive verb vocabulary in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Method We examined these associations in a sample of 31 toddlers with ASD and their parents in a longitudinal correlational study. Key aspects of parents' verb input were measured in 2 video-recorded 15-min parent-child free-play sessions. Child expressive verb vocabulary was measured using parent report. Results An aggregate variable composed of the quantity, diversity, and grammatical informativeness of parent verb input in follow-in utterances across the 2 parent-child sessions strongly and positively predicted later child expressive verb vocabulary, total R = .25, even when early child expressive verb vocabulary was controlled, R change = .17. Parent follow-in utterances without verbs were not significantly related to later child expressive verb vocabulary, R = .001. Conclusions These correlational findings are initial steps toward developing a knowledge base for how strong verb vocabulary skills might be facilitated in children with ASD.
Purpose - Correlates of receptive-expressive vocabulary size discrepancies may provide insights into why language development in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) deviates from typical language development and ultimately improve intervention outcomes.
Method - We indexed receptive-expressive vocabulary size discrepancies of 65 initially preverbal children with ASD (20-48 months) to a comparison sample from the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories Wordbank (Frank, Braginsky, Yurovsky, & Marchman, 2017) to quantify typicality. We then tested whether attention toward a speaker and oral motor performance predict typicality of the discrepancy 8 months later.
Results - Attention toward a speaker correlated positively with receptive-expressive vocabulary size discrepancy typicality. Imitative and nonimitative oral motor performance were not significant predictors of vocabulary size discrepancy typicality. Secondary analyses indicated that midpoint receptive vocabulary size mediated the association between initial attention toward a speaker and end point receptive-expressive vocabulary size discrepancy typicality.
Conclusions - Findings support the hypothesis that variation in attention toward a speaker might partially explain receptive-expressive vocabulary size discrepancy magnitude in children with ASD. Results are consistent with an input-processing deficit explanation of language impairment in this clinical population. Future studies should test whether attention toward a speaker is malleable and causally related to receptive-expressive discrepancies in children with ASD.
Children's vocal development occurs in the context of reciprocal exchanges with a communication partner who models "speechlike" productions. We propose a new measure of child vocal reciprocity, which we define as the degree to which an adult vocal response increases the probability of an immediately following child vocal response. Vocal reciprocity is likely to be associated with the speechlikeness of vocal communication in young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Two studies were conducted to test the utility of the new measure. The first used simulated vocal samples with randomly sequenced child and adult vocalizations to test the accuracy of the proposed index of child vocal reciprocity. The second was an empirical study of 21 children with ASD who were preverbal or in the early stages of language development. Daylong vocal samples collected in the natural environment were computer analyzed to derive the proposed index of child vocal reciprocity, which was highly stable when derived from two daylong vocal samples and was associated with speechlikeness of vocal communication. This association was significant even when controlling for chance probability of child vocalizations to adult vocal responses, probability of adult vocalizations, or probability of child vocalizations. A valid measure of children's vocal reciprocity might eventually improve our ability to predict which children are on track to develop useful speech and/or are most likely to respond to language intervention. A link to a free, publicly-available software program to derive the new measure of child vocal reciprocity is provided. Autism Res 2018, 11: 903-915. © 2018 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
LAY SUMMARY - Children and adults often engage in back-and-forth vocal exchanges. The extent to which they do so is believed to support children's early speech and language development. Two studies tested a new measure of child vocal reciprocity using computer-generated and real-life vocal samples of young children with autism collected in natural settings. The results provide initial evidence of accuracy, test-retest reliability, and validity of the new measure of child vocal reciprocity. A sound measure of children's vocal reciprocity might improve our ability to predict which children are on track to develop useful speech and/or are most likely to respond to language intervention. A free, publicly-available software program and manuals are provided.
© 2018 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Purpose - This investigation was conducted to determine whether young children with autism spectrum disorders exhibited a canonical neural response to word stimuli and whether putative event-related potential (ERP) measures of word processing were correlated with a concurrent measure of receptive language. Additional exploratory analyses were used to examine whether the magnitude of the association between ERP measures of word processing and receptive language varied as a function of the number of word stimuli the participants reportedly understood.
Method - Auditory ERPs were recorded in response to spoken words and nonwords presented with equal probability in 34 children aged 2-5 years with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder who were in the early stages of language acquisition. Average amplitudes and amplitude differences between word and nonword stimuli within 200-500 ms were examined at left temporal (T3) and parietal (P3) electrode clusters. Receptive vocabulary size and the number of experimental stimuli understood were concurrently measured using the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories.
Results - Across the entire participant group, word-nonword amplitude differences were diminished. The average word-nonword amplitude difference at T3 was related to receptive vocabulary only if 5 or more word stimuli were understood.
Conclusions - If ERPs are to ever have clinical utility, their construct validity must be established by investigations that confirm their associations with predictably related constructs. These results contribute to accruing evidence, suggesting that a valid measure of auditory word processing can be derived from the left temporal response to words and nonwords. In addition, this measure can be useful even for participants who do not reportedly understand all of the words presented as experimental stimuli, though it will be important for researchers to track familiarity with word stimuli in future investigations.
Supplemental Material - https://doi.org/10.23641/asha.5614840.
We examined direct and indirect paths involving receptive vocabulary and diversity of key consonants used in communication (DKCC) to improve understanding of why previously identified value-added predictors are associated with later expressive vocabulary for initially preverbal children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD; n = 87). Intentional communication, DKCC, and parent linguistic responses accounted for unique variance in later expressive vocabulary when controlling for mid-point receptive vocabulary, but responding to joint attention did not. We did not confirm any indirect paths through mid-point receptive vocabulary. DKCC mediated the association between intentional communication and expressive vocabulary. Further research is needed to replicate the findings, test potentially causal relations, and provide a specific sequence of intervention targets for preverbal children with ASD.
Theory and research suggest that vocal development predicts "useful speech" in preschoolers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but conventional methods for measurement of vocal development are costly and time consuming. This longitudinal correlational study examines the reliability and validity of several automated indices of vocalization development relative to an index derived from human coded, conventional communication samples in a sample of preverbal preschoolers with ASD. Automated indices of vocal development were derived using software that is presently "in development" and/or only available for research purposes and using commercially available Language ENvironment Analysis (LENA) software. Indices of vocal development that could be derived using the software available for research purposes: (a) were highly stable with a single day-long audio recording, (b) predicted future spoken vocabulary to a degree that was nonsignificantly different from the index derived from conventional communication samples, and (c) continued to predict future spoken vocabulary even after controlling for concurrent vocabulary in our sample. The score derived from standard LENA software was similarly stable, but was not significantly correlated with future spoken vocabulary. Findings suggest that automated vocal analysis is a valid and reliable alternative to time intensive and expensive conventional communication samples for measurement of vocal development of preverbal preschoolers with ASD in research and clinical practice. Autism Res 2017, 10: 508-519. © 2016 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
© 2016 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Diversity of key consonants used in communication (DKCC) is a value-added predictor of expressive language growth in initially preverbal children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Studying the predictors of DKCC growth in young children with ASD might inform treatment of this under-studied aspect of prelinguistic development. Eighty-seven initially preverbal preschoolers with ASD and their parents were observed at five measurement periods. In this longitudinal correlational investigation, we found that child intentional communication acts and parent linguistic responses to child leads predicted DKCC growth, after controlling for two other predictors and two background variables. As predicted, receptive vocabulary mediated the association between the value-added predictors and endpoint DKCC.