The role of maternal input in the development of wh-question comprehension in autism and typical development.
ABSTRACT ABSTRACT Social deficits have been implicated in the language delays and deficits of children with autism (ASD); thus, the extent to which these children use language input in social contexts similarly to typically developing (TD) children is unknown. The current study investigated how caregiver input influenced the development of wh-question comprehension in TD children and language-matched preschoolers with ASD. Children were visited at four-month intervals over 1.5 years; mother-child play sessions at visits 1-2 were coded for maternal wh-question use. At visits 3-5 children watched videos in the Intermodal Preferential Looking paradigm, to assess their comprehension of subject and object wh-questions. Mothers' use of wh-questions with verbs and complex wh-questions positively predicted wh-question comprehension in the TD group; in contrast, mothers' use of wh-questions with 'be' as the main verb negatively predicted wh-question comprehension in the ASD group. Thus, TD children and children with ASD appear to use their linguistic input differently.
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ABSTRACT: Although child maltreatment has often been described as leading to language deficits, the few well-controlled investigations of language acquisition in maltreated children have focused on language content rather than form, or have used qualitative rather than quantitative measures. This study examines syntactic complexity in 19 maltreated and 14 nonmaltreated preschool-aged children. Mother-child dyads participated in play sessions that were transcribed and scored for the presence of morphosyntactic forms in child speech and for specific sentence constructions in maternal speech. Findings indicated that child maltreatment was associated with language delay in both vocabulary and production of syntactic structures. There were also qualitative differences in characteristics of maternal utterances between maltreating and comparison groups. Because maltreatment initially occurred before age 2, this study highlights the long-lasting negative influence of maltreatment on language development and also provides the first demonstration of child language delays and differences in maternal speech within a single maltreatment sample.Developmental Science 03/2004; 7(1):88-102. · 3.89 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: This is the first study to investigate experimentally how children come to learn mappings between novel phrasal forms and novel meanings: a central task in learning a language. Two experiments are reported. In both studies 5- to 7-year-old children watched a short set of video clips depicting objects appearing in various ways. Each scene was described using a novel verb embedded in a novel construction. Children who watched the videos and heard the accompanying description were able to match new descriptions that used the novel construction with new scenes of appearance. Moreover, our results suggest a facilitative effect for the disproportionately high frequency of occurrence of a single verb in a particular construction (such as has been found to exist in naturalistic input to children). While the fast mapping might be taken as an indication of innate knowledge that is specific to language, analogous effects in non-linguistic categorization tasks suggest that children are acquiring the new phrasal form with general cognitive skills.Developmental Science 12/2005; 8(6):500-8. · 3.89 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Questions concerning the role of input in the growth of syntactic skills have generated substantial debate within psychology and linguistics. The authors address these questions by investigating the effects of experimentally manipulated input on children's skill with the passive voice. The study involved 72 four-year-olds who listened to stories containing either a high proportion of passive voice sentences or a high proportion of active voice sentences. Following 10 story sessions, children's production and comprehension of passives were assessed. Intervention type affected performance--children who heard stories with passive sentences produced more passive constructions (and with fewer mistakes) and showed higher comprehension scores than children who heard stories with active sentences. Theoretical implications of these results for the understanding of the nature of syntactic skills and practical implications for the development of preschool materials are discussed.Developmental Psychology 02/2006; 42(1):164-74. · 3.21 Impact Factor