Individual differences in the real-time comprehension of children with ASD.

TitleIndividual differences in the real-time comprehension of children with ASD.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsVenker CE, Eernisse ER, Saffran JR, Weismer SEllis
JournalAutism Res
Volume6
Issue5
Pagination417-32
Date Published2013 Oct
ISSN1939-3806
KeywordsAge Factors, Attention, Child Development Disorders, Pervasive, Child, Preschool, Comprehension, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Individuality, Language Development Disorders, Language Tests, Male, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Reaction Time, Verbal Learning, Vocabulary
Abstract

Many children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) demonstrate deficits in language comprehension, but little is known about how they process spoken language as it unfolds. Real-time lexical comprehension is associated with language and cognition in children without ASD, suggesting that this may also be the case for children with ASD. This study adopted an individual differences approach to characterizing real-time comprehension of familiar words in a group of 34 three- to six-year-olds with ASD. The looking-while-listening paradigm was employed; it measures online accuracy and latency through language-mediated eye movements and has limited task demands. On average, children demonstrated comprehension of the familiar words, but considerable variability emerged. Children with better accuracy were faster to process the familiar words. In combination, processing speed and comprehension on a standardized language assessment explained 63% of the variance in online accuracy. Online accuracy was not correlated with autism severity or maternal education, and nonverbal cognition did not explain unique variance. Notably, online accuracy at age 5½ was related to vocabulary comprehension 3 years earlier. The words typically learned earliest in life were processed most quickly. Consistent with a dimensional view of language abilities, these findings point to similarities in patterns of language acquisition in typically developing children and those with ASD. Overall, our results emphasize the value of examining individual differences in real-time language comprehension in this population. We propose that the looking-while-listening paradigm is a sensitive and valuable methodological tool that can be applied across many areas of autism research.

DOI10.1002/aur.1304
Alternate JournalAutism Res
PubMed ID23696214
PubMed Central IDPMC3808474
Grant ListP30 HD003352 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
P30HD003352 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
F31DC009142 / DC / NIDCD NIH HHS / United States
F31 DC009142 / DC / NIDCD NIH HHS / United States
R01DC007223 / DC / NIDCD NIH HHS / United States
T32DC005359 / DC / NIDCD NIH HHS / United States
R01 DC007223 / DC / NIDCD NIH HHS / United States
T32 DC005359 / DC / NIDCD NIH HHS / United States
R37HD037466 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States
R37 HD037466 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States