How children with autism extend new words

Karla K. McGregor, Allison Bean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: How do children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) extend a noun to the category of objects it labels? Given their tendency to perceive locally, their extensions might be too narrow. Given their social-communicative deficits and a context in which the knowledge of a social-communicative partner promotes narrow extensions, their extensions might be too broad. Method: We tested these predictions by comparing 25 highfunctioning school-aged children with ASD to 29 age-matched peers with typical development (TD) in a task that required extraction of commonalities of object referents and use of socialcommunicative context to support the category inference. Results: The children with ASD readily extended a given noun to multiple exemplars, thereby demonstrating tacit knowledge that words label categories and the ability to override local perceptual biases they might have. However, unlike their peers with TD, those who had concomitant weaknesses in semantic and syntactic language ability formed broad categories when their social partner's behavior suggested narrow categories. Conclusions: Some, but not all, people with ASD fail to use social context to support inferences about word extension. The direction of any causal relationship between failure to use social contextual cues and language deficits awaits determination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-83
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Volume55
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012

Fingerprint

Autistic Disorder
autism
Aptitude
Language
deficit
union and employers' representatives
Semantics
Cues
ability
language
semantics
Autism Spectrum Disorder
New Words
Autism
Autism Spectrum Disorders
trend
school
Inference
Nouns
Peers

Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Learning
  • Vocabulary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

Cite this

How children with autism extend new words. / McGregor, Karla K.; Bean, Allison.

In: Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, Vol. 55, No. 1, 01.02.2012, p. 70-83.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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