2022 Poster Sessions

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Poster Session #1


Lexical Processing in People with and without Dyslexia: A Modality or Lexicality Effect?

            Yu Zhang; Oklahoma State University
            Michelle Moore; West Virginia University
            Peter Richtsmeier; Oklahoma State University
            Hannah Krimm; University of Georgia

Dyslexia has been characterized by reading difficulties and considered a language disorder or reading disability. In order to explicate the nature of the language-based deficit, this study examines the lexical processing of individuals with or without dyslexia in auditory and visual lexical decision tasks. Thirty-six college-age adult participants completed auditory and visual lexical decision tasks in which they indicated whether they heard or saw a real English word by pressing buttons on a computer keyboard. The stimuli were 20 words and 20 pseudo words that comprised only early-acquired or only later-acquired consonants (Moore, Fiez, & Tompkins, 2017). Individuals with dyslexia were less accurate and slower in processing the nonword items, regardless of modality. Participants with dyslexia took longer to respond in the visual modality than participants without dyslexia. For the auditory task, however, the two groups did not differ in processing time or accuracy. These results suggest that individuals with dyslexia lack fluent decoding skills for pseudo words and the deficit lies more in the visual modality.


Learning new words from video in autistic preschoolers: Overheard vs. addressed speech

            Sudha Arunachalam; New York University
            Taylor Boyd; New York University
            Thuy Buonocore; Emerson College
            Taina Hernandez McShane; New York University
            Rhiannon Luyster; Emerson College

 We investigated whether preschool-aged children with and without autism could learn novel words for novel objects over videoconferencing, either when they were directly addressed in a teaching interaction, or when they were bystanders who overheard the teaching interaction. Children with autism (n = 53, mean age 4;5) and without (n = 67, mean age 2;4) participated over Zoom in two word learning trials. In the Addressed condition, the experimenter faced the camera and addressed her speech to the child. She presented three novel objects, labeling one of them with a novel noun (e.g., “Let’s see the toma”). In the Overheard condition, she used the same script, but directed her speech to another adult, whom she faced. At test, children saw the three novel objects and were asked to, e.g., “find the toma.” Their eye gaze was coded. The non-spectrum group performed better in the Addressed condition than the Overheard condition, but the autistic group showed no difference between conditions. Thus, autistic children may not have a disadvantage for learning from overheard speech. Funding: NIH R01DC017131


Language abilities of autistic adolescents and young adults with language impairment: A longitudinal case study

            Teresa Girolamo; University of Connecticut
            Mabel Rice; University of Kansas

Little is known about the language abilities in autistic adolescents and young adolescents and young adults with language impairment (LI). This knowledge gap limits accurate diagnosis and development of supports as autistic individuals transition to adulthood. Thus, this study asked: (1) Do participants change over time in their performance on measures of overall language and morphosyntax? (2) Do some language domains show more variation than others? Participants (n = 13; 1 female, 11 male) were autistic adolescents and young adults who completed standardized assessments on verbal working memory, working memory, morphosyntax, vocabulary, and overall language once per year for three years. Results showed that group performance and individual performance on measures of overall language and morphosyntax were consistent over time; thus, we subsequently report results from Time 3. All participants qualified for LI (i.e., scored = -1.25 SD on = 2 assessments). Participants showed the most interindividual variation on morphosyntax and had limited receptive-expressive differences, with no one singular profile. Findings underline the importance of comprehensive language assessment for autistic individuals into adolescence. Limitations and future directions will be discussed.


Is Confidence Key? The Effects of Confidence on Implicit Word Learning in School-aged Children with and without DLD.

            Ashley Goussak; Outreach Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy
            Ashlie Pankonin; San Diego State University / University of California, San Diego
            Alyson Abel; San Diego State University

Typically developing (TD) children learn most new words with ease, while research indicates children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) have difficulty with this process (Kan & Windsor, 2010). The present study examines how subjectively-reported confidence levels (i.e., high, medium, or low confidence) inform neural representations of implicitly-learned nonsense words for school-age children with DLD and their TD peers. By using electroencephalography (EEG), this study examines real-time brain processing during an implicit word learning task. Specifically, the N400 component, which is sensitive to word learning in school-aged children, was examined to explore brain processing in relation to depth of newly-learned words (Abel et al., 2018). Overall, the results reveal an association between confidence level and neural representation of words for TD children, but not for children with DLD. These results indicate that regardless of their confidence in their ability to learn words, children with DLD consistently present with poorer word learning outcomes and less robust representations of implicitly-learned words.

Funding: National Institute for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIH-NIDCD 1R21DC018865).


Dual Language Profiles among of young Latino children of immigrants: early predictors and exploratory screening for low performing profiles

            Brian Collins; Hunter College, CUNY; Judge Baker Children's Center
            Claudio Toppelberg; Harvard Medical School; Judge Baker Children's Center
            Jiali Xu; Judge Baker Children's Center

Educators and school specialists are often challenged to understand the wide variability of language proficiencies among dual language children. The determinants of language profiles of dual language children—from high bilingual proficiency to low performance in both languages—are poorly understood. This study investigates early child and family factors as predictors of dual language profiles (DLP) and aims to identify children who may be at risk for language delays. Latino dual language children (n=228) were assessed in English and Spanish at kindergarten (mean age = 6) and two years later, in second grade (mean age = 8). Logistic regressions demonstrated that kindergartners with lower English or Spanish phonological processing or non-verbal IQ scores were more likely to have a low performing DLP—a 1-point score drop was associated, on average, with a 4 to 10.8 % higher risk. By combining the most consistent and predictive measures we provide initial evidence to support the development of a much-needed screening protocol for the early identification of children with low performing DLP by practitioners and specialists using a rapid screener.

 This project was funded by NIMH.


Increasing Dyslexia Knowledge in Undergraduates

            Dorothy Tam; University of Georgia
            Hannah Krimm; University of Georgia

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of reading a refutation text on the knowledge of dyslexia among pre-professional undergraduate students.
 Method: Undergraduate students in the Communication Sciences and Disorders major at the University of Georgia will be randomly assigned to read a refutation text or a basic text on dyslexia. The refutation text will serve as the experimental group, while the basic text will be the control group. Students will complete a pretest to evaluate existing knowledge on dyslexia prior to reading the randomly assigned article. Students will complete a posttest directly after and a maintenance test four weeks after the assigned activities to determine change in knowledge of dyslexia associated with reading the refutation text.
Expected Results: We hypothesize that the refutation text will facilitate significantly more change than the basic text and that participants’ knowledge of dyslexia will remain high at the maintenance time point.
Keywords: refutation text, conceptual change, dyslexia, speech-language pathology


A data-driven approach to identifying possible delayed learners using longitudinal MB-CDI data in two datasets

            Trevor Day; University of Minnesota
            Arielle Borovsky; Purdue University
            Donna Thal; San Diego State University
            Jed Elison; University of Minnesota

 Our goal was to study early identification of language disorders by measuring longitudinal trajectories of vocabulary size and syntactic ability (i.e. content and function words). We performed latent class analyses (LCAs) on two MB-CDI datasets, one of which contained diagnostic status (Dx) for a subset of participants. Estimating only on total inventory, the overlap in trends between Dx+ and Dx- was too large to assign a “potential diagnosis” group. However, performing separate LCAs on content vs. function word inventory was more informative. While the majority of participants were assigned to equal-rate classes, a small number were assigned to classes with large or small functional inventories for concrete inventory size. A significant group of Dx+ participants appeared in a class which included 43 participants from the other dataset, only 7 to 11 of whom would have been otherwise identified with the Delay 3+ criteria. Participants in this group had significantly lower Mullen receptive (d=.66) and expressive (d=.49) language scores. These findings provide some avenues for early identification of language delays in longitudinal samples.


Identifying and Describing Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) in Children

            Alyssa Kuiack; Western University
            Lisa Archibald; Western University

In 2016/2017 consensus was established regarding use of the diagnostic label developmental language disorder (DLD) to describe children exhibiting persistent language problems having a functional impact on communication or learning and in the absence of any biomedical condition. Despite this consensus, research has revealed continuing uncertainty regarding application of this label among speech-language pathologists (SLPs). In response to this uncertainty, a survey of SLPs was conducted to investigate the clinical language profiles and associated assessment results viewed as warranting the label DLD. SLPs (n=224) were presented with ten childhood language profiles and assessment results. Participants reviewed each case and described if they felt a diagnosis of DLD was warranted, which presented symptoms were consistent/inconsistent with DLD and if further information/testing was needed. Additionally, participants provided details regarding their personal diagnostic processes. Results indicated general consensus regarding application of the DLD label. However, qualitative analysis revealed substantial variation in diagnostic processes and clinical decision making. This wealth of data provides critical insight into the challenge of building practice consistency in the identification of DLD especially in cases of complex language profiles.


Grammaticality Judgments of Tense and Agreement (T/A) by Child Speakers of African American English: Effects of Clinical Status, Surface Form, and Grammatical Structure

            Lori Vaughn; Louisiana State University
            Janna Oetting; Louisiana State University

Rationale: We examined the grammaticality judgments of children with and without Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) within African American English (AAE) to learn more about their tense and agreement (T/A) systems. The children’s judgments also were examined by surface form (overt vs. zero) and grammatical structure (T/A and non-T/A). Methods: The data were from 91 AAE-speaking kindergartners (DLD = 34; typically developing, TD = 57) who lived in the rural south. The data were analyzed twice, first with A’ values based on General American English (GAE) and then with percentages of acceptability based on AAE. Results: A’ values based on GAE led to chance performance for both groups. In contrast, percentages of acceptability based on AAE led to differences for clinical group, surface form, and grammatical structure, with the TD group accepting AAE-appropriate T/A overt forms at higher percentages and showing greater discernment between the AAE-appropriate and inappropriate T/A forms than the DLD group. Conclusion: The findings contribute to a growing literature base that shows the DLD grammar profile in AAE to include weaknesses in T/A. External Funding: NIDCD RO1DC009811.


From Plan to (Printer) Paper: How Does DLD Affect the Writing Process for College Students?

            Alexander Tucci; University of Arizona
            Elena Plante; University of Arizona
            Becky Vance; University of Arizona

This work is part of a larger study that sought to fill a critical gap in our understanding of functional outcomes for college students with developmental language disorder (DLD). We explored how students with and without DLD differ in written output across handwritten and typed modalities, planning strategies for writing, and revision behaviors when writing. Fifty college students (25 with DLD and 25 with typical language (TL), M-age = 19) completed expository writing samples in typed and handwritten conditions. Samples were coded in SALT for grammatical complexity, errors, and use of clause and sentence structure. Revisions were coded via participants’ completed handwriting and video recordings of their typing. Planning behaviors were compared via self-reported survey data. Preliminary analyses suggest typing may be a more functional modality for measuring students’ writing abilities. Students with DLD may use more visual planning strategies than their peers with TL. Results of this work will be used to inform functional writing assessment and intervention for young adults with DLD. This project was partially funded by a UArizona GPSC Research and Project Grant.


Facilitating Language Comprehension in Adults with Intellectual or Developmental Disability

            Meredith Saletta Fitzgibbons; Midwestern University
            Amy Stein; Midwestern University
            Omar Khan; The Douglas Center

Rationale: Facilitating language comprehension may be accomplished via: (1) orthographic support, (2) illustration support, and (3) multimodal participation. The purpose of this study was to determine whether any of these supports would facilitate listening comprehension in adults with intellectual or developmental disability (ID).

Methods: Researchers read four stories aloud to 26 adults with ID. One condition involved passive listening; the other three conditions involved the above supports. Following each story, participants answered open-ended comprehension questions. Participants’ reading and visuospatial skills were quantified. Participants also indicated which condition they enjoyed the most.

Results: Only participants with ID and strong reading skills benefited from orthographic support and multimodal participation. Illustration support did not appear to be an effective strategy. Half of all participants indicated that they enjoyed the passive listening condition more than the other conditions, perhaps because of its lower demands.

Conclusions: It is crucial to base pedagogy on methods which have empirical validity, and for educators to adapt their instruction to learners’ individual strengths and preferences.

Funding source: Midwestern University Speech-Language Pathology Program (Downers Grove, IL) departmental funds.


Exploring Parent Input from a Multidimensional Perspective

            Tracy Preza; University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
            Pamela Hadley; University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

This study investigated how responsive and linguistic parent input features are related to children’s later production of diverse, simple sentences. Responsive, simple declaratives in input at 1;9 were hypothesized to positively relate to children’s sentence diversity at 2;6. Input features were coded during naturalistic free play interactions for 20 parent-toddler dyads. At 1;9, all toddlers were typically developing with an average mean length of utterance of 1.17 (SD = 0.19). Parent utterances were classified into four input categories: (a) responsive utterances, (b) simple declaratives, (c) responsive declaratives, and (d) neither simple declarative nor responsive. The percentage of utterances in these categories was related to child sentence diversity at 2;6. Responsive declarative and simple declarative utterances were rare, whereas the other categories were common. Using spearman-rho correlations, the percentage of responsive parent input utterances was positively related to child sentence diversity outcomes, whereas the percent of neither was negatively correlated with child sentence diversity outcomes. Responsivity continues to play a facilitative role as toddlers begin producing sentences. Recommendations for enhancing input quality from a multidimensional perspective will be discussed.

NSF BCS-08-22513


Exploring Links Between Language and Cognition in Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Lexical Processing as a Mediator

            Janine Mathee-Scott; University of Wisconsin-Madison
            Jan Edwards; University of Maryland
            Jenny Saffran; University of Wisconsin-Madison
            Susan Ellis Weismer; University of Wisconsin-Madison

Prior research suggests a clear link between language and cognitive abilities in both neurotypical and autistic populations. To date, the precise mechanisms which underlie this link remain an open question. In the present study, fifty-two toddlers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) participated in both standardized assessments as well as an established looking-while-listening eyegaze task to provide an implicit measure of language processing, at age 2 ½ and 3 ½. Mediation analyses revealed that lexical processing abilities at Time 1 accounted, in part, for the longitudinal link between early expressive language abilities, and expressive language abilities one year later. These findings suggest that children’s early online language processing supports their continued expressive language development. Additionally, lexical processing ability significantly mediated the relationship between cognitive ability at Time 1 and both receptive and expressive language ability at Time 2. Findings suggest that higher-order cognitive functions play a role in autistic children’s early lexical processing abilities, which in turn support their broader language development. This investigation contributes to our growing understanding of the complex relationship between language and cognition in ASD. This work was supported by NIH R01DC012513 and NIH R01DC017974.


Conversational Repairs in Reminiscing: An investigation into the repair strategies employed by parents and children with language disorder.

            Charlotte Clark; University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire
            Ryan Nelson; University of Louisiana, at Lafaytte
            Jack Damico; University of Colorado, Boulder
            Holly Damico; University of Louisiana, at Lafayette
            Laura Arrington; University of Louisiana, at Lafayette
            Maura Kitto; University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire
            Emily Stover; University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire
            Abigail Joski; University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire

Research has shown parent-child reminiscing conversations facilitate both cognitive and language development among typically developing children. While research on reminiscing with children diagnosed with a language disorder is sparce, experts in speech language pathology and related fields advocate for its therapeutic potential. The goal of this study is to examine the communication breakdowns and repairs that occur between parents and their preschoolers during reminiscing. We use inductive methods of analysis to examine similarities and differences between the elicited reminiscing conversations of two groups of parent-child dyads—one including children with a diagnosed disorder impacting language function and one with typical developing children. Results describe patterns of repair strategies that parents and children employ to further reminiscing conversations. Knowledge of these patterns will better prepare clinicians to make use of reminiscing as a part of intervention.


Comprehension of Unscripted Parent Narratives in Autistic Children: An Exploratory Eye-tracking Study

            Vishakha Shukla; New York University
            Angela Xiaoxue He; Hong Kong Baptist University
            Sudha Arunachalam; New York University

Autistic children show narrative comprehension differences in tasks that pose high response demands but little is known about whether these differences are a result of failure to follow narratives at a basic level, or due to the task demands. Using eye-tracking, we explored autistic and nonspectrum children’s visual attention as they listened to narratives produced by their parents. Based on the findings that autistic children produce more off-topic comments in their narratives, we expected them to also focus more on irrelevant narrative elements. Additionally, given that parents tailor their input to their children’s language abilities, we expected parents of autistic children to adapt their narratives to aid comprehension. The results showed no difference in visual attention between the two children groups and no differences in parent narratives. Thus, narrative comprehension differences in autistic children are not due to failure to follow along with a story. Our study highlights the importance of measures with minimal response demands to obtain a finer picture of autistic children’s comprehension skills.

Funding: NIH R01 DC016592


Comparing three methods for quantifying change across a kindergarten program

            Theresa Pham, University of Western Ontario
            Daniel Ansari; University of Western Ontario
            Marc Joanisse; University of Western Ontario
            Janis Cardy; University of Western Ontario
            Lisa Archibald; University of Western Ontario

Language, reading, and math skills are assumed to grow and develop during kindergarten. In the present study, we conducted an analysis on various kindergarten skills to explore whether students changed from the beginning to end of kindergarten. Experimental tasks measured language, reading, and math skills. We compared different methods of identifying change, namely using the t-test, normalization, and reliable change index methods. We found that t-test analyses captured positive changes across the measures at the group-level, whereas the normalization and RCI methods revealed differences at the individual-level. With the latter methods, each method differed in i) identifying rates of change (normalization: 29-75% of students changed vs. RCI: 0-93% of students changed) and ii) the predictive value of pre-SK scores (normalization: students with higher pre-SK scores were more likely to improve vs. RCI: students with lower pre-SK scores were more likely to improve). The methods provide starting points for measuring progress in language intervention.

This study was funded by an NSERC Discovery Grant award to Lisa Archibald.


Can early use of be serve as a marker of grammatical development? Evidence from a Czech longitudinal corpus

            Filip Smolík; Institute of Psychology, Czech Academy of Sciences
            Anna Chromá; Faculty of Arts, Charles University

The verb be is one of the key grammatical elements in many languages. It is usually the most frequent verb, and its acquisition is thus an important milestone in children’s language. The present study examines the development of the verb být ‘be’ in longitudinal transcripts of six children acquiring Czech (aged 1;07 to 4;02). First, we describe the early use of the verb as a copula or auxiliary. Second, we examine whether the usage or diversity of be might serve as a marker of grammatical development. Using cross-lagged mixed regression analyses, we tested the token or type frequency of be predicts MLU in subsequent transcripts, or vice versa. The results show that while MLU is a significant predictor of both token and type frequency of be, the opposite is not true. However, models have identified significant interactions indicating that the early usage and diversity of be-forms may predict higher subsequent MLU, but later on, they are related to lower MLU. This indicates that the be-system is an early developmental achievement that is followed by the development in other domains.


A word-learning intervention utilizing principles of retrieval-based practice: A single-case design with 4- to 6-year-old children with Developmental Language Disorder

            Katherine Gordon; Boys Town National Research Hospital
            Holly Storkel; University of Kansas
            Stephanie Lowry; Boys Town National Research Hospital
            Mollee Sultani; University of Kansas

Retrieval-based training strategies increase word learning and retention in children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) more than passive training strategies. Currently, it is unclear how retrieval-based training should be implemented in interventions targeting real words with abstract meanings (e.g., Tier 2 words). In the current single-case design, 4- to 6-year-old children with DLD completed an 8-week intervention in which they were taught Tier 2 words via retrieval practice. Learning was measured at the completion of the intervention and after 2-week and 8-week delays. Most children exhibited a good response to intervention. Children demonstrated learning in that they slowly modified responses throughout the intervention and retained word information post-intervention. However, in some cases they perseverated on incorrect responses during training. In contrast to past work, children demonstrated better learning and retention of forms than meanings. Principles of retrieval-based learning should be implemented in interventions as they contribute to successful learning and retention. Through further research, we can continue to refine intervention effectiveness with Tier 2 words.


A Systematic Review of Long-Term Outcomes from Early Childhood Communication Interventions

            Natalie Pak; Vanderbilt University
            Kelsey Dillehay; Vanderbilt University
            Caroline Wilkerson; Vanderbilt University
            Jason Chow; University of Maryland
            Ann Kaiser; Vanderbilt University

Early childhood language and communication interventions have been shown to be effective, but the long-term effects of these interventions are less understood. The purpose of the current systematic literature review was to describe the features, effects, and rigor of early communication intervention studies with long-term timepoints. We conducted an online literature search and coded important study features. We identified 17 intervention studies with unique participant samples. Outcomes of interest were measured 3–71 months post-intervention. The size and significance of long-term intervention effects varied by study, outcome, and timepoint, but most studies reported at least one intervention effect that was significant at a long-term timepoint. Many effect sizes decreased by later timepoints. We identified several frequently occurring risk of bias issues in these studies. Future research should focus on measuring long-term outcomes and related variables within sound research designs to contribute to development of interventions with lasting effects. This research was funded in part by an OSEP Doctoral Leadership Training grant #H325D180095 (A Kaiser, PI) and a graduate training fellowship from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University.


A Study of Conjoined Independent Clauses by Dialect, Clinical Status, and Age: Implications for Language Sample Transcription

            Tahmineh Maleki; Louisiana State University
            Janna Oetting; Louisiana State University

Rationale: Transcription of conjoined independent clauses within language samples varies across professionals. Some leave these clauses together, while others break them into two utterances. To learn more about this transcription decision, we examined the number of conjoined independent clauses produced by children and the impact of these clauses on their MLUs by the children’s dialect, clinical status, and age. Methods: The data were 236 language samples from children who spoke either African American English or Southern White English and who were classified as either 6-year-olds with DLD, 6-year-olds with TD, or 4-year-olds with TD. Results: The number of conjoined independent clauses and the impact of these clauses on the children’s MLUs varied by their clinical status (DLD < TD) and age (TD4 < TD6) but not their dialect. Conclusion: Transcription decisions regarding conjoined independent clauses within samples lead to equitable effects on MLU across dialects. Nevertheless, breaking conjoined independent clauses into two utterances may reduce one’s ability to detect syntactic differences between children with and without DLD and syntactic growth as children age.


A Single-Case Experimental Investigation of Sketch and Speak Expository Intervention for Adolescents with Language-Related Learning Disabilities via Telepractice

            Amy K. Peterson; Utah State University
            Teresa Ukrainetz; Utah State University

There is a dearth of discourse-level intervention research available to SLPs serving adolescent students (Peterson et al., 2020). This multiple probe multiple baseline across participants single-case design study investigated the efficacy of Sketch and Speak strategy intervention. Method: Three participants entering ninth grade completed baseline and 12 individual treatment sessions. Primary outcome measures of notes, oral reports, and short answer questions were collected in baseline and as taught and non-taught treatment probes. Pre/post-treatment measures consisted of a SALT expository report and social validity questionnaire. Results: Visual-graphical and statistical analysis showed a treatment effect for taught note quality and oral reports for all three learners. Non-taught notes and oral report probes also showed an impact of treatment. There was no treatment effect for short answer responses, possibly due to methodological issues. The distal measure showed improvements in report organization, inclusion of details, and use of the note form. Participants reported potential of the taught strategies for non-study learning activities. Conclusion: The results of this study support further investigation of Sketch and Speak as a useful strategy intervention for adolescent students. Funding: USDE OSEP Personnel Development Grant


11-Month-Olds Can Learn A Phonological Pattern That Adults Cannot

            LouAnn Gerken; University of Arizona
            Megan Figueroa; University of Arizona
            Lisa Goffman; University of Texas at Dallas

Exclusive OR rules have been of interest to learning theorists, because they have a sub-pattern structure that makes them unlearnable via associative mechanisms. Previous research in which 11-month-olds and adults were exposed to CVCV nonwords generated by an OR rule (if C1 is voiced then C2 is voiced, OR if C1 is voiceless then C2 is voiceless) demonstrated that infants readily learned the rule, while adults did not. However, the observed infant~adult difference may be due to the fact that infants were tested on blocks of words containing both voiced and voiceless words. Thus, individual infants may have learned only one of the sub-patterns. Here we asked if infants learn both sub-patterns by familiarizing them with words generated by the OR voicing rule and testing on new words in which voiced and voiceless consistent test words were given on separate trials. Infants listened significantly longer to both voiced and voiceless consistent test trials than to inconsistent test trials, suggesting that the previously observed learning difference between infants and adults is one that requires explanation.

 Funding: NSF 1724842 & NIH R01DC018410


Train-the-trainer Models: Exploring Their Feasibility to Increase Service Reach

            Sarah Lynn Neiling; The University of Arizona
            Mary Alt; The University of Arizona
            Irma Márquez; Casa de los Niños

Spanish-English late talkers often do not receive quality treatment. Barriers include stringent early intervention (EI) eligibility standards and lack of cross-linguistic and cross-cultural clinical know-how. To increase the reach of interventions, training other professionals is a creative solution that may reduce burden on the field while bringing needed interventions to families who do not qualify for EI services. The current, ongoing study examines the feasibility of using the train-the-trainer model to train community health workers (“parent educators”) to coach caregivers as they administer a word-learning intervention (Vocabulary Acquisition and Usage for Late Talkers, VAULT) to late-talking Latine toddlers exposed to Spanish and English. We anticipate that this model will be feasible--that parent educators will maintain fidelity with the intervention and coaching procedures, likely adjusting aspects to families’ needs. Although we are not advocating for other professionals to do the work of a speech-language pathologist, some concrete intervention procedures may be feasible for other professionals to carry out, increasing service reach. This project is funded by the ASHFoundation Student Research Grant in Early Childhood Language Development.


The role of Rapid Automatized Naming (RAN) and reading fluency: An eye-tracking study

            Alexia Martins; University of Rhode Island
            Vanessa Harwood; University of Rhode Island
            Alisa Baron; University of Rhode Island

Serial rapid automatized naming (RAN) is one of the best predictors of reading fluency; however, there is variability regarding the specific relationship between RAN and reading. This study aims to investigate the relationship between serial RAN and word reading fluency (measured within an eye-tracking task) in 33 1st and 2nd grade students. RAN was measured by rapid letter naming (RLN) and rapid digit naming (RDN) on the CTOPP-2 and word reading fluency was measured using gaze duration. Results indicated that RAN and gaze duration were not correlated when first and second grade students were combined. However, when analyzed separately, gaze duration and RAN (both RLN & RDN) were correlated in 2nd grade. RAN may be a more useful measure of reading fluency only when participants become more skilled readers.

 Funding source: Rhode Island Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Network of Biomedical Research Excellence from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under grant number P20GM103430


The place for S(P)CD in taxonomies of idiopathic language disorder

            Sean Redmond; University of Utah
            Andrea Ash; University of Utah

Rationale: Clinical taxonomies of idiopathic language disorder differ in how children whose primary language deficits are pragmatic in nature are accommodated. In this study, we tested the prediction extrapolated from the DSM5 framework that there would be significant differences in neurodevelopmental features and collateral clinical symptoms between children with S(P)CD and children with DSM5-language disorder (DSM5-LD). Methods: Data on 47 participants from a community sample provided M:F ratios and family histories as well as verbal, nonverbal, socioemotional behavioral, and literacy measures. Results: Children in the S(P)CD group were 5-times more likely than the DSM5-LD group to be male, 2-times more likely to have a positive family history of ADHD, and as a group demonstrated elevated levels of ADHD, internalizing, and externalizing symptoms. In contrast, children with DSM5-LD presented with reduced reading skills and nonverbal abilities relative to children with S(P)CD. Conclusions: These results encourage treating these profiles as separate disorders that may co-occur rather than as mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive subtypes or parts of a language disorder spectrum. Funding provided by NIDCD


The Influence of Shyness on Language Assessments

            Liesl Melnick; Oklahoma State University - Stillwater
            Sarah Kucker; Oklahoma State University - Stillwater

Accurate assessment of speech and communication disorders is complex and vital to an individual's success and clinician’s work. One understudied component that could influence client’s performance on language assessments is shyness. Due to a variety of different assessment methods, shy clients may perform worse on more interactive tests compared to less stimulating tests. The goal of this study is to examine the influence of shyness on participant’s performance on language assessments which vary in sociability.

 124 participants, ages 17-to-37 months, were given three different language tasks varying the social interaction required; a looking task, pointing task, and production task. Parents reported their child’s shyness level via the ECBQ (Rothbart, 2007). The degree of shyness was compared with participant's accuracy across the three tests. Preliminary results suggest that even after accounting for age effects, accuracy on the tasks is not related to shyness. Further ongoing extensions include frame-by-frame coding to examine more fine-grained behaviors and analysis via a mixed model regression. Understanding temperamental impacts on language assessments is essential to formulate methods to deal with the variation.


The impact of sex on types of errors made in children with Developmental Language Disorder

            Brianna Roenbeck; Oklahoma State University
            Sarah Kucker; Oklahoma State University
            Abbi Wright; Oklahoma State University

This study focuses on Developmental Language Disorder and the effects of sex on errors made during word defining. Previous research has found sex differences in DLD prevalence and differences in error rates in DLD, but no work has examined the interaction. Prior work, however, suggests that females outperform men in phonological tasks (Kaushanskaya et al., 2013). Therefore, we hypothesize that DLD males will make more phonological errors when defining a given set of words. 493 children from Tomblin et al. (1997) provided definitions of known words that were coded for error types. Errors were categorized as mixed, semantic, phonological, unrelated, or indeterminate. Preliminary results indicated an interaction of diagnosis and sex on error rates with males making more errors when defining. The current study is continuing to examine types of errors. Further research on error categories is still in progress. Having a significant understanding of common errors being made will aid in forming proper treatment of DLD. This in turn will aid in the normal development of a child’s skills despite their language impairment. No funding to report.


The Home Literacy Environments of Children with Developmental Language Disorder Before and After COVID-19 School Closures

            Katharine Radville; MGH Institute of Health Professions
            Rouzana Komesidou; MGH Institute of Health Professions
            Julie Wolter; University of Montana
            Jessie Ricketts; Royal Holloway University of London
            Tiffany Hogan; MGH Institute of Health Professions

We compared the home literacy (HL) environments of kindergarten children with DLD to those of typically developing (TD) children. We evaluated changes in HL practices following COVID-19 school closures. Also, we examined the extent to which HL practices predict word reading for each group. We administered standardized assessments of oral language, nonverbal intelligence, and word reading and used a caregiver questionnaire to measure the informal (e.g., shared reading, listening to storybooks) and formal (e.g., code-based activities) HL environments. The groups participated in informal and formal HL routines at similar frequencies. Caregivers of children in both groups participated in informal and formal HL activities more frequently following school closures. The formal HL environment positively and significantly predicted word reading for the DLD group. HL practices did not otherwise predict word reading for either group. The subgroup of children with the greatest risk (comorbid DLD and word reading difficulty) participated in HL activities the least frequently.

This research was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health Grant R01DC016895, awarded to co- PIs Tiffany P. Hogan and Julie A. Wolter.


Sustained deficits in prosodic organization in children with developmental language disorder

            Kathryn Kreidler; University of Texas at Dallas
            Lisa Goffman; University of Texas at Dallas

The aim of the current study was to assess the influence of language load on production accuracy in prosodically fragile content words in children with developmental language disorder (DLD) and their typically developing (TD) peers. At yearly study sessions across two years (three timepoints), 25 children (11 with DLD) produced multiple noncanonical iambic words (baboon, papoose, buffet) under low (imitation) and high (retrieval) language load conditions. Accuracy was calculated using a percent whole words correct measure. Errors that occurred in the weak syllable position were divided into syllable omissions, segment omissions, and segment substitutions.  Errors that resulted in whole word inaccuracy were more likely to persist in children with DLD into late childhood (7-8 years), particularly during retrieval. Weak syllable errors were distributed across syllable omissions, segment omissions, and segment substitutions. Children with DLD show a sustained deficit in producing words that tap into vulnerable components of the prosodic hierarchy. Supported by NIH R01 DC04826 and DC016813.


Structural language impairment in ASD versus LAD: Behavioral and neural characteristics

            Caroline Larson; University of Connecticut
            Karla Rivera-Figueroa; University of Connecticut
            Hannah R. Thomas; University of Connecticut
            Deborah Fein; University of Connecticut
            Michael C. Stevens; Yale University School of Medicine
            Inge-Marie Eigsti; University of Connecticut

This study probed for structural language impairment (LI) using behavioral and functional neuroimaging methods in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and in individuals diagnosed with ASD in childhood who no longer met criteria for ASD in adolescence/adulthood, referred to as “Loss of Autism” diagnosis (LAD). Participants included: ASD (N = 35); LAD (N = 31); Neurotypical (N = 34). We examined two criteria for LI: an omnibus measure of language and a clinical marker. We used task-based fMRI to examine lateralization of significantly activated language-related brain regions in LI versus normal-range structural language (LN) groups. There were no significant ASD versus LAD differences in the proportion of participants classified as LI. Functional MRI results indicated statistically greater language-related left hemisphere lateralization in the LI relative to LN group. This work demonstrates the presence of persistent structural language difficulty even in the absence of ASD symptoms in some individuals within the LAD group and unique patterns of language-related neural specialization for language function in LI relative to LN.

 Funding: R01MH076189; R01MH112687-01A1


Speech and Language Development in 2-year-old children with Cerebral Palsy:  A Follow-Up

            Marianne Elmquist; Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison
            Phoebe E. M. Natzke; Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison
            Katherine C. Hustad; Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Most children with cerebral palsy (CP) experience speech, language, and communication impairments, ranging in the severity of impairment. Communication impairments can negatively impact social and educational participation as well as overall quality of life; therefore, those who require additional support to foster language development must receive it. Understanding long-term communication abilities is essential in determining appropriate interventions. However, few studies have characterized the extent to which early communication abilities predict long term outcomes. In this study, we used generalized linear models to determine if speech and language profiles at 2-years predicted speech, language, and communication outcomes at follow-up (9 to 10 years), in 23 children with CP. Speech outcomes assessed at follow-up included intelligibility scores and Viking Speech Scale ratings. Language outcomes were derived from Systematic Analysis of Language Transcripts (SALT) transcripts and included mean length utterances – morphemes and number of different words. Communication was assessed using the Communication Function Classification System. We will discuss results in the context of access to multi-modal communication interventions to support communication in children with CP.

 Funding Sources: R01DC009411, U54 HD090256, and T32HD007489.


Speech and Language Assessment of Young Dual Language Learners: Are Speech-Language Pathologists Following Best Practice Guidelines?

            Rebecca Jarzynski; Northern Illinois University; University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire
            Milijana Buac; Northern Illinois University

More than 12 million children in America speak a language other than English at home (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2022). Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are called to provide culturally and linguistically responsive services to the individuals they serve. However, the complexity of accurately evaluating dual language learners (DLLs) has the strong potential to lead to both under- and over- enrollment in SLP services (Bedore & Pena, 2008). A recent converging evidence framework was outlined as best-practice for assessing DLLs (Castilla-Earls et al., 2020). The present study was designed to better understand current SLP knowledge and implementation of best practices for evaluating DLLs as compared to Castilla-Earls et al.’s (2020) converging evidence framework. Results from this survey study revealed that few SLPs understand or appropriately utilize a converging evidence approach when evaluating DLLs speech and language skills. These findings can inform critically needed revisions of educational programs and enhanced training efforts designed to increase the quality of SLP assessment practices for DLLs, assisting our field in achieving equitable outcomes for children from all backgrounds. [Funding: NIU Health Sciences Doctoral-Faculty Dyad Grant].  


Six-Year-Olds’ Comprehension of Object-Gapped Relative Clause Sentences: Investigating the Contribution of NP Number Mismatch

            Ian Morton; University of Wisconsin - Whitewater
            C. Melanie Schuele; Vanderbilt University

Comprehension of sentences with a center-embedded, object-gapped relative clause (ORC) is challenging for children. Adani and colleagues (2010) reported that children’s comprehension improved under conditions of noun phrase (NP) number mismatch (e.g., singular main clause subject, plural relative clause subject) as compared to NP number match (e.g., both singular subjects). However, given their stimuli children’s improved comprehension may have been the result of NP + verb phrase (VP) number mismatch. Our study isolated the contribution of NP number mismatch. Sixteen typical language 6-year-olds completed an ORC sentence comprehension task with four types of stimuli: (a) NP number mismatch only, (b) NP number match only, (c) NP number mismatch with VP number mismatch and (d) NP number match with VP number match. Children selected one of four pictures in an array to 56 verbally presented relative clause sentences. The within-subjects comparison for NP mismatch only and NP match only was not significant. However, the within-subjects comparison for NP mismatch only and NP + VP mismatch was significant, with better performance on the NP + VP mismatch stimuli.


Preschool activity contexts and language development in children with and without developmental disabilities

            Lynn Perry; University of Miami
            Nicole Vershov; University of Miami
            Stephanie Custode; University of Miami
            Batya Elbaum; University of Miami
            Daniel Messinger; University of Miami

Preschool teachers use activity contexts to organize the day and give children opportunities to interact and learn. Here, we assess how differences in the proportion of time in activities relates to the language abilities of children with and without developmental disabilities (DD). During monthly observations, 74 3-5-year-old’s (44 with DD) time in structured (e.g., circle time) and unstructured (e.g., free-play) activities was recorded. Children’s language abilities were assessed via the PLS-5. Increases in the proportion of time spent in structured activities were positively associated with language, and this association did not differ with disability status. Notably, the association was stronger for expressive than receptive language. This finding could indicate a mechanism by which structured activities, in which teachers elicit verbal responses through routines, provide children with more opportunities to practice language and build their expressive skills. Overall, findings highlight the importance of context in creating opportunities for cognitive development. This research was funded by the Institute of Educational Sciences (IES).


Pragmatic Language Assessment Across Contexts Among Autistic Boys and Boys with Fragile X Syndrome: Use of the Pragmatic Rating Scale-School Age

            Nell Maltman; University of Wisconsin-Madison
            Rebecca Willer; University of Wisconsin-Madison
            Audra Sterling; University of Wisconsin-Madison

Boys with fragile X syndrome and a co-diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (FXS+ASD) exhibit pragmatic language impairments similar to those observed among autistic boys. The Pragmatic Rating Scale-School Age (PRS-SA; Landa et al., 2011) is a measure that captures dimensions of pragmatic language in the context of a semi-structured assessment, the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), and has been used to identify similarities in pragmatics among these clinical groups. However, the ADOS can be cumbersome and costly, warranting an alternative context from which the PRS-SA may be used. The present study examined group comparisons in PRS-SA scores, consistency across contexts, and associations with other ASD-related metrics. The PRS-SA was coded from videos of 10-minute conversations and the ADOS. Groups did not differ in the conversation, but diverged in the ADOS; however, no context effects were observed. Social-affective symptoms were associated with pragmatics for the FXS+ASD group only. Findings suggest the PRS-SA captures ASD-associated pragmatic behaviors among boys with FXS+ASD across contexts.  

This research was supported by P30 HD03352, R01DC019092, T32HD007489, U54 HD090256, and UW- Madison (PI: Sterling).


Parent-reported language milestone mastery in young children with cerebral palsy

            Helen Long; University of Wisconsin
            Katherine C. Hustad; University of Wisconsin
            Karen Romer; Campbell Clinic
            Leigha Friener; Lebonheur Children's Hospital
            Leslie Rhodes; University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center

Children with CP are at significant risk for atypical communication development. We examined parent-reported language milestone mastery in 47 children with CP under 60 months of age during a routine check-up at an urban outpatient neuromuscular multidisciplinary clinic. Parents completed the LENA Developmental Snapshot (LDS) to indicate mastery of early language developmental milestones. Developmental age differences were calculated for each child (corrected age – dev. age). Children were categorized into three gross-motor functioning groups (Low, Mid, and High) using the Gross Motor Functioning Classification System (GMFCS). Participants presented with significant dev. age differences in language milestone mastery (p < .001). Greater dev. age differences were observed in children with more severe motor impairments (p = .007).  Implications of neurological damage on language performance will be discussed.

Funding support for this project was provided by the Plough Foundation of Memphis awarded to D. Kimbrough Oller and by the NICHD (T32HD007489 and U54HD090256).


Parental Responsivity and Child Communication During Mother-Child and Father-Child Interactions in Fragile X Syndrome

            Sarah Potter; UC Davis MIND Institute
            Leonard Abbeduto; UC Davis MIND Institute

Past studies have shown that parentally responsive behavior positively influences language development in neurotypical children and children with disabilities, including those with fragile X syndrome (FXS), the leading cause of intellectual disability. However, most studies have focused exclusively on the mother-child relationship. This study examined concurrent relationships between parent behavior (i.e., responsivity and behavior management) and child language performance in mother-child and father-child interactions, as well as relationships between child characteristics and both parent behavior and child language. Results indicated that mothers and fathers used similar rates of responsive behaviors during parent-child interactions, and parental responsivity was positively associated with child language performance. Additionally, older children and children with higher levels of adaptive behavior had parents who used higher rates of responsive behaviors. Compared to mothers, fathers used higher rates of behavior management strategies, and this type of parental behavior was not associated with child language performance. This study suggests that interventions focused on increasing parental responsiveness would be beneficial for these families, especially if delivered early given the association between responsivity and child age.

Funding source: NICHD P50HD103526


Parent and teacher report of ADHD in children with hearing loss: Is there a tendency towards over-reporting?

            Jessica Mattingly; Texas Christian University
            Krystal Werfel; Boys Town National Research Hospital
            Emily Lund; Texas Christian University

ADHD may be over-identified in the deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) as a result of assessment tools measuring language-based behaviors. Extant research shows that ADHD assessments contain language-based items, leading to over-reporting of ADHD in children with language disorders. In addition to deficits in language, DHH experience executive functioning and listening fatigue difficulties, which may be mistaken as ADHD. This study asks if DHH are at-risk for overdiagnosis of ADHD, score differently on language-based items of the ADHD measure, and if teachers report ADHD-associated behaviors more than parents. Participants included 53 students assessed using the NICHQ Vanderbilt Assessment for ADHD, which was adapted to remove language-biased items. Significant differences were found between hearing-aid users and cochlear-implant users in Total Score and Average Performance Score. Removing language-based items resulted in an additional difference between these groups in hyperactivity scores, but not Average Performance Score. Comparisons between teacher and parent ratings are discussed. These results suggest that hearing-aid users need greater support to prevent these differences. Funding: NIDCD/NIH, R01 R01DC017173 to PIs: Werfel and Lund.


Narrative referencing patterns suggest struggles with social (vs. linguistic) pragmatics in ASD

            Emily Zane; James Madison University
            Lindsey Filbey; James Madison University
            Kimberly Clark; James Madison University
            Lindsey Filbey; James Madison University
            Riley Myhaver; Connecticut College
            Ruth B. Grossman; Emerson College

The current study examines the frequency of referential ambiguity produced in the narratives of older children with and without ASD. Two types of ambiguity were identified and compared between groups. The first, never-introduced ambiguity, involves a referential noun phrase that refers to a character who has not yet been mentioned (e.g., “Once upon a time, the little girl/she...”). Increased occurrences of this type of ambiguity indicate difficulty with social pragmatics/mentalizing. The second type of ambiguity, competing-referents, involves a referential noun phrase that can refer to multiple possible referents (e.g., “There were two little girls who lived in a castle. The little girl/she...”). Increased occurrences of this ambiguity type indicate difficulties with linguistic pragmatics (e.g., Grice’s maxim of quantity) and/or executive functioning (e.g., tracking possible referents in the discourse). Results find that never-introduced ambiguity is significantly more frequent in the narratives of participants with ASD, but competing-referents ambiguity is not. Findings suggest that social pragmatics (perspective-taking and mentalizing) -- not linguistic pragmatics or executive dysfunction -- underlie referential ambiguity in ASD. Funding source: NIH-NIDCD R01 DC012774-01.


Semantic Word Learning by Typically Developing Children in High and Low Context Conditions

            Dawna Duff; University of Pittsburgh
            Suzanne Adlof; University of South Carolina
            Maalavika Ragunathan; University of Pittsburgh
            Alexis Mitchell; University of South Carolina
            Anna Ehrhorn; University of South Carolina
            Taylor Bryant; University of South Carolina

Rationale: Precise semantic information about words (e.g. definitions) and high context (e.g. presentation of words in a narrative) are both predicted to improve semantic word learning (Bolger et al., 2008). This study examines the effect of contextual support on semantic word encoding, controlling for the precision of information provided in a definition. Specifically, semantic learning outcomes are compared when words are presented with high contextual support (definitions and pictures embedded in a narrative) or low contextual support (the same definitions and pictures with rote instruction), across medium or high exposures to the word.

Methods: Typically developing second grade students completed word learning tasks under two contextual support conditions (high/low) and at two doses (18/36 exposures).  Measures of semantic encoding (recall, recognition) were administered.

Results: Analyses will examine differences in semantic word learning outcomes between across context conditions, dose, and interaction between context and dose.

Conclusion: We predict main effects of contextual support condition (high>low) and dose (high>low) but no interactions.

This study is part of Project WORD, funded by the NIH – NIDCD, #5R01DC017156-03.

Poster Session #2


Measuring referential communication dynamically in older children with ASD

            Caitlin Lee; James Madison University
            Mariana Schreuders; James Madison University
            Emily Zane; James Madison University
            Ruth B. Grossman; Emerson College

Research finds individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are relatively ineffective and/or inefficient at referential communication. However, this research typically uses static metrics of efficacy (how accurately messages were relayed) and efficiency (overall word count), rather than dynamic metrics (e.g., Does the speaker alter subsequent descriptions when the listener previously misunderstood them?). Our study uses dynamic measures to examine how speakers with and without ASD adjust their message to meet listener needs across time.

A board was positioned before the participant with a doll surrounded by four shapes. Behind a barrier, the same shapes were configured around a research assistant, similar to the doll. The participant’s task was to use language to guide the RA to select targeted shapes.

We found no significant difference in efficacy or efficiency between groups. There was a significant effect of trial on word count, reflecting fewer words were used in later trials.

Both groups were equally effective at adjusting communication strategies based on previous success, but participants with ASD were marginally more efficient: they abbreviated utterances more quickly to reflect increased listener understanding.



Measuring Dialect and Syntax in School-age Urban African American Children

            Bryan Murray; University of California- Irvine
            Katherine Rhodes; University of California- Irvine
            Julie Washington; University of California- Irvine

The goal of this study was to explore the syntactic abilities of school-age African American children (N=513) in an urban intensive school district who speak African American English (AAE). Syntax provides critical support for both academic success and linguistic growth, yet has not been a focus of language research with school-aged African American children. Multilevel modeling was used to evaluate growth and associative change between dialect and syntax. Results suggested that dialect density exerted its impact early but did not continue to influence syntactic growth over time. The current study suggests that failure to consider cultural language differences obscures our understanding of the linguistic competence of these students. 

The authors are grateful to the Georgia Language Disabilities Research Innovation Hub, supported by the National Institutes of Health (1R24HDO7545-01) for research support.


Measuring change during intervention using norm-referenced, standardized measures: a comparison of raw scores, standard scores, age equivalents and growth scale values

            Elaine Kwok; Northwestern University
            Hannah Feiner; Northwestern University
            Aaron Kaat; Northwestern University
            Megan Roberts; Northwestern University

Norm-referenced, standardized measures are tools designed to characterize a child’s abilities relative to their same-aged peers, but have also been used to measure changes in skills during intervention. This study analyzed Preschool Language Scales-5 data from 110 children who participated in an 8-weeks parent-mediated language intervention and compared four, frequently available scores from standardized measures in detecting changes in children’s language skills. The four scoring approaches compared were raw scores, standard scores, age equivalents and growth scale values. Findings suggested that growth scale values were not only psychometrically-sound, but were the most direct, and sensitive measure of changes in skills compared to raw, standard, and age-equivalent scores. Data from this study was collected with support from a National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders grant R01DC014709 (PI: Megan Y. Roberts).


Measures of socioeconomic Status to Predict Child Language Outcomes

            Sneh Jhaveri; Oklahoma State University
            Sarah Kucker; Oklahoma State University

Several studies have measured socioeconomic status (SES) using various indices, especially maternal education. However, very few studies have looked at the combined effects of the various indices of SES on word learning in children. The current study examines the various indices of SES in a single model to understand whether using one factor is as beneficial as using a combination of factors to study SES. Secondly, the study aims to analyze whether the broad (neighborhood demographics) or close (parent demographics) elements of the environment have a larger influence on vocabulary size. Here, we find neighborhood education accounted for 1.3% of the variance on vocabulary after controlling for parental education and age. Additionally, parental education did not add additional variance to the model. Data reveals that factors of SES need to be studied in depth to better predict child language outcomes.

no funding to report


Language and Literacy Abilities among Children with Emotional-Behavioral Disorders

            Erin Smolak; Boys Town National Research Hospital
            Karla McGregor; Boys Town National Research Hospital
            Nancy Ohlmann; Boys Town National Research Hospital

emotional-behavioral disorders. In the current study, we investigate the prevalence of risk for language/literacy disorders in a sample of children and adolescents (N = 201) enrolled in a residential treatment program for youth with emotional, behavioral, and/or academic problems using a teacher-report survey. A subsample of these students (n = 151) completed an expository essay in the classroom. We compared essay characteristics across students who passed the teacher survey and students who failed (and are at risk for language/literacy disorders). Of the 201 total children, 94 (47 percent) failed the survey and were determined to be at risk. Essay characteristics across groups were largely similar, with the exception of spelling and grammatical writing issues: Students at risk had significantly more spelling and grammar errors than students who were not at risk. Results confirm a high comorbidity of EB disorders and risk for language disorder and suggest children with significant emotional and behavioral problems struggle with language and literacy overall. Funding: BTNRH/Nebraska Tobacco Settlement Biomedical Research Development Fund.


Is less really more? The impact of clinician recast length on treatment gains.

            Lucia Sweeney; The University of Arizona
            Heidi Mettler; The University of Arizona
            Elena Plante; The University of Arizona
            Becky Vance; The University of Arizona
            Alexander Tucci; The University of Arizona

Even when a treatment is known to be effective, details around how the treatment is delivered can enhance or lessen its effectiveness. In this study, we employ a well-established treatment, Enhanced Conversational Recast therapy, and manipulate the length of the clinician recasts provided to children. Preschool children with DLD either heard recasts that were four or fewer words or five or more words in length during treatment of a single grammatical form. The results indicated significant change in the children’s use of treated forms over untreated control forms, confirming the overall effectiveness of the treatment. There was no difference associated with recast length, but somewhat more children responded to treatment under the short recast condition. We also examined the effect of recast length on the growth in children’s utterance length pre- to post-treatment. There was no difference in MLU growth associated with recast length. Funded by NIDCD grant R01DC015642.


Interprofessional Collaborative Practices in Educational Services for Students With Developmental Language Disorder and/or Dyslexia

            Timothy DeLuca; MGH IHP
            Rouzana Komesidou; MGH IHP
            Tiffany Hogan; MGH IHP

The field of implementation science has informed the need for increased interprofessional collaborative practices (ICP) within schools, especially when supporting children with DLD and/or dyslexia who engage with multiple stakeholders throughout their school day. A survey was administered to a partnership school district to identify features of ICP with items related to (a) provider characteristics (b) knowledge, (c) roles/responsibilities, (d) collaborative practices, (e) values, and (f) organizational factors. Simple linear and robust regressions indicated that profession type and educational level significantly predicted factors of knowledge, behaviors, values, and identification of resources related to supporting students with DLD and/or dyslexia. ANOVAs indicated that professional groups within the district varied significantly in their training, knowledge, practices, and beliefs regarding ICP and service of children with DLD and/or dyslexia. Implementation science informs processes to be identified, trialed, and revised to improve ICP and support of children with DLD and/or dyslexia. Tewksbury Public Schools Grant: Building Capacity for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice to Improve Educational Services for Students with Dyslexia and Developmental Language Disorder, 2020-2021 PI: Rouzana Komesidou, PhD


Interactions between world knowledge and sentence-internal cues in passive sentence interpretation in children with developmental language disorder

            Justin Kueser; Purdue University
            Patricia Deevy; Purdue University
            Arielle Borovsky; Purdue University
            Michelle Indarjit; Purdue University
            Mine Muezzinoglu; Purdue University
            Claney Outzen; Purdue University
            Laurence Leonard; Purdue University

Relative to children with typical development (TD), children with developmental language disorder (DLD) have difficulties interpreting noncanonical structures like passive sentences, particularly when they describe improbable events. We developed a learning-and-processing task in which four-to-five-year-old children with DLD (N=19) and with TD (N=18) learned about events that biased event expectancies concerning particular agents’ behavior (e.g., a woman who likes physical work vs. a man who likes passive observation) followed by a visual-world-paradigm passive sentence comprehension task. We asked: How do children with DLD learn, use, and integrate event probability cues with other sentence-internal cues during online passive sentence processing? Results suggested that the children with DLD had poorer use of informative morphosyntactic, vocabulary, and event probability cues. The findings are consistent with accounts that children with DLD have poorly represented, immature comprehension strategies. However, the results also suggest that children with DLD have poorer sensitivity to world knowledge and biasing event probability information despite their preference for probable event sentence interpretations, opening new avenues for study of factors contributing to DLD. Funded by NIH/NIDCD F31DC018435.


Improving Oral and Written Narration of Children with Language-based Reading Difficulties: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial

            Sandra Gillam; Utah State University
            Ronald Gillam; Utah State University
            Sharon Vaughn; University of Texas at Austin
            Greg Roberts; University of Texas at Austin
            Phil Capin; University of Texas at Austin
            Beula Magimairaj; Utah State University
            Megan Israelsen-Augenstein; Utah State University
            Rebekah Wada; Utah State University
            Carly Fox; Utah State University
            Jordan Dille; University of Texas at Austin

This multi-site randomized controlled trial was designed to rigorously evaluate the efficacy of the Supporting Knowledge of Language and Literacy (SKILL) intervention program for improving oral narrative comprehension and production.  A total of 357 students with language and literacy difficulties in Grades 1-4 in 13 schools across seven school districts were randomly assigned to the SKILL treatment condition or a business as usual (BAU) control condition.  SKILL was provided to small groups of two to four students in 36, 30-minute lessons across a two-month period.  Multi-level modeling with students nested within teachers and teachers nested within schools revealed students who received the SKILL treatment significantly outperformed students in the BAU condition on measures of oral narrative. This study was supported by a grant from the National Center for Educational Research.


How Do Speech-Language Pathologists Interpret Picture Scenes Used in Narrative Language Assessment?

            Emily Matula; New York University
            Christina Reuterskiöld; Linköping University

Visual aids are commonly used in narrative language assessment, including story formulation. Children are asked to create a story about a picture scene, which often depicts a main event (i.e., agent acting on patient) surrounded by contextual (background) details (e.g., Gillam & Pearson, 2017). Main event identification is considered more important than background detail identification (e.g., Norbury, 2014). We do not yet know whether speech-language pathologists (SLPs) carry over this emphasis on main events to their own interpretation of picture scenes. In this study, SLPs and non-SLPs viewed picture scenes (main event with/without background detail) from Norbury (2014) and clicked on areas they perceived as important to the description of the scene. All participants had a smaller proportion of main event clicks for pictures with background detail. Results suggest that background details are perceived as important when included in a picture scene. SLPs may need to consider the composition of picture scenes used to elicit narrative language. This research was supported by a Doctoral Research and Travel Grant from New York University Steinhardt School of Education, Culture, and Human Development.


Feasibility of a remote transdiagnostic assessment battery for language processing

            Carol Miller; Penn State University
            Diane Williams; Penn State University
            Cynthia Huang-Pollock; Penn State University
            Laura Bray; Pennsylvania Dept. of Education
            Karen Gonzalez; Penn State University
            Tracy Kammerer; Penn State University

Stakeholders are increasingly calling for transdiagnostic approaches to understanding, assessing, and treating neurodevelopmental disorders. This pilot study explores the feasibility and promise of a research-driven assessment battery focused on information processing abilities, which transcend traditional diagnostic categories of development disorders. As initial steps in this program of research, the research questions are 1) does a battery of measures of language processing that are adaptations of established experimental tasks show promise in early pilot testing? and 2) is remote administration of the tasks feasible?  Participants are 6 children, ranging in age from 8;2 to 10;10 (mean 9;6), with a recruitment target of n=12.  The battery includes measures of nonverbal IQ, phonological awareness and memory, decoding, rapid naming, short-term and working memory, and processing speed with verbal auditory, nonverbal auditory, and visual stimuli.  Interim descriptive results suggest that remote administration is feasible with appropriate adjustments.  The distributions of scores fall within an expected range but show reasonable variability.  Collinearity among the variables covers a wide range, indicating that the instruments are tapping into different sources of variation among children.


Examining Differences in Caregiver and Child Language Behaviors During Dyadic and Triadic Caregiver-Child Interactions in Children with Down Syndrome

            Marianne Elmquist; University of Wisconsin - Madison
            Emily Lorang; University of Wisconsin - Madison
            Andrea Ford; University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
            Audra Sterling; University of Wisconsin - Madison

Researchers commonly examine dyadic caregiver-child interactions (CCIs) to understand how features of these language-facilitating interactions can contribute to child language development. However, children frequently engage in triadic CCIs, or interactions involving two caregivers simultaneously. From this premise, we examined if/how, six caregiver measures (e.g., mean length of utterance [MLU], opportunities to respond, type-token ratio) and three child language measures (e.g., MLU) varied when sampled during two configurations—dyadic and triadic CCIs—for 11 children with Down syndrome. We sampled the caregiver and child language used during interactions in three contexts: dyadic CCIs with mothers, dyadic CCIs with fathers, and triadic CCI with both caregivers present. We transcribed portions of the samples using SALT conventions. To compare caregiver and child language measures between dyadic and triadic CCIs, we used effect sizes (Hedges g) and confidence intervals. We will discuss implications for sampling interaction behaviors and inferences about a child's overall language learning environment.

Funding sources: T32 DC005359, P50HD105353, F31 DC018716, Vilas life cycle award, and startup funds from the University of Wisconsin-Madison


Effect of Everyday Speech Exposure on Children’s Lexical and Phonological Development

            Ria Garg; Winston Churchill High School
            Jan Edwards; University of Maryland
            Margaret Cychosz; University of Maryland

Phonological working memory measures how well children can store sequences of phones in short term working memory. We looked at the relationship between intonation in child-directed speech, children’s talkativeness, and children’s phonological and lexical development. We hypothesized that exaggerated intonation in child-directed speech (defined as a more variable f0 pattern deviating from typical adult-directed speech) would be associated with more mature development.

N=18 children completed a series of standardized assessments and daylong audio recordings to measure exposure to speech in their homes. The assessments included a nonword repetition test to measure phonological working memory and a receptive vocabulary test.

 Results showed that children whose caregivers used more exaggerated intonation had larger vocabularies. This correlation could be because exaggerated f0 contours are also associated with slower speech where phones are less likely to be deleted. We also observed little variation in the nonword repetition tests, leading to a weak correlation between child talkativeness and phonological development. Taken together, these results demonstrate the connection between the home language environment and children’s lexical and phonological working memory. Funding: R01DC02932


Does sequential pattern learning on a serial reaction time task relate to language, motor, and cognitive skills in preschool-aged children?

            Leah Sack; The University of Texas at Dallas
            Sébastien Hélie; Purdue University
            McKenzie Scoppa; The University of Texas at Dallas
            Natalia Savkovic; The University of Texas at Dallas
            Sonia Singh; The University of Texas at Dallas
            Lisa Goffman; The University of Texas at Dallas

Cognitive processes, such as sequential patterning abilities, may underly the array of deficits exhibited by children with developmental language disorder (DLD). The Serial Reaction Time task (SRT task) has potential for assessing sequential learning in preschool-aged children. We asked whether performance and learning on a simple SRT task was related to language, cognitive, and motor abilities. Nineteen typically developing (TD) preschoolers completed standardized language, cognitive, and motor assessments, as well as a simple SRT task. Results showed faster reaction times in patterned versus random blocks. Relationships were observed across domains. This study confirms the feasibility of using the SRT task among TD preschoolers. Findings contribute to determining the relationship between language, cognitive, and motor processes. Future analyses that include preschoolers with DLD will enhance the understanding of mechanisms underlying DLD and inform diagnostic and therapeutic practice. Funded by NIH NIDCD R01 DC016813.


Do Adolescents with Developmental Language Disorder Understand the Language Used on Order of Probation/Detention Forms?

            Tammie Spaulding; University of Connecticut

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess if adolescents with developmental language disorder (DLD) appear to understand the legal terminology used on orders of probation and detention that adolescents are asked to sign in court.
Method: Adolescents with DLD and their similar-aged typical language peers were presented and prompted to paraphrase randomly selected content from these forms. Responses were coded for degree of understanding. Correlations of performance with cognitive, oral language, and reading measures were also performed.  
Results: Both groups exhibited difficulty paraphrasing the content from these forms, with this paraphrasing serving as a window into their comprehension of the legal jargon. The only significant correlation with legal phrase comprehension was receptive vocabulary skills.
Discussion:  It is important to decrease the language complexity that adolescents, including those with DLD, encounter in the juvenile justice system so that they can understand and make well-informed decisions when immersed within the legal processes. Targeting adjustments to the vocabulary within these forms may be an important starting point in this simplification process.


Comparison of writing samples elicited from two different informative paragraph prompts in students with Language-based learning disabilities (LLD)

            Anthony Koutsoftas; Seton Hall University
            Cynthia Puranik; Georgia State University
            Alisa Hindin; Seton Hall University

Informative writing is an important and understudied linguistic outcome for students with language-based learning disabilities (LLD). This study examined the utility of two different prompts to elicit informative paragraph writing samples from intermediate grade students with LLD. The prompt provided students with a topic, instructions, and an opportunity for verbal rehearsal before composing paragraphs. Two different informative paragraph writing samples were obtained from each participant in the study and coded for written transcription measures of productivity, complexity, accuracy, and quality. As part of the research protocol, students completed standardized assessments of oral language, reading, and writing. Statistical analyses included mean comparisons of like measures across samples and correlation analyses among written transcription measures and standardized scores for oral language, reading, and writing. Findings indicated parity among writing measures of complexity and accuracy with differences observed in measures of productivity and will be discussed in terms of clinical utility and alignment with current theories of writing. This study was funded by a development and innovation grant from U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, #R324A200046.


Child Language and Autism Symptoms Influence Maternal Expectations and Transition Planning in Adolescents with Fragile X Syndrome

            Olivia Boorom; University of Kansas
            Heather Fielding-Gebhardt; University of Kansas
            Kandace Fleming; University of Kansas
            Nancy Brady; University of Kansas

This study examined parents’ expectations for their children with fragile X syndrome during the adolescent period, how those expectations changed over time, and whether child language ability or autism symptomatology were related to parents’ changing expectations. Semi-structured interviews of 45 mothers of adolescents with fragile X were analyzed to identify parent report of changing expectations for their children over time and goals related to work and postsecondary education. Logistic regression analyses showed that both greater autism symptoms and lower language skills were independently associated with lower likelihood of reporting vocational goals. Multinomial logistic regression analyses revealed that parents of children with greater autism symptoms were more likely to report lower expectations in adolescence. These results suggest that adolescents with fragile X with higher support needs and their families need greater transition planning assistance. This work was funded by NICHD R01 HD084563 and NICHD U54 HD-90216.


Applying the complexity approach in telepractice: Implications for children with speech sound disorders

            Abigail John; San Diego State University, University of California San Diego
            Alicia Escobedo; San Diego State University, University of California San Diego
            Amanda Laird; San Diego State University
            Irina Potapova; San Diego State University
            Philip Combiths; University of Iowa
            Sonja Pruitt-Lord; San Diego State University
            Jessica Barlow; San Diego State University

 The complexity approach in phonological intervention has been established as an effective method for children with phonologically-based speech sound disorders (SSDs; Gierut, 2007). To date, this approach has not been evaluated using a telepractice service delivery model. In the present study, nine children with SSD participated in a six-week telepractice intervention study using an individualized treatment target. Results revealed broad phonological change immediately following intervention for all participants, despite variations in the magnitude of observable differences compared to baseline measures. This study aims to close a clinical gap in the evidence base in support for the complexity approach via telepractice. This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health under Grants NIDCD R21 DC01720 and NIDCD F31 DC017697.


A multi-contextual examination of predictors of expressive vocabulary among late and typical talking toddlers using a machine learning approach

            Julia Nikolaeva; Northwestern University
            Elaine Kwok; Northwestern University
            Sou Jin Choi; Northwestern University
            Brittany Manning; Northwestern University, Weill Cornell Medicine
            Lauren Wakschlag; Northwestern University
            Elizabeth Norton; Northwestern University

There is considerable unexplained variation in expressive vocabulary in toddlerhood, as few studies consider the dynamic interplay among various domains that influence variability in developing language. The goal of this study is to identify the strongest predictors of 30-month-old parent-reported expressive vocabulary based on (1) traditional child language measures, as well as other domains hypothesized to improve prediction (2) child brain measures (electroencephalography/EEG), (3) parent-child transactional language environment, (4) family risk/protective factors, and (5) child mental health risk. Random forest machine learning methods are employed to explore linear and nonlinear patterns of data and test several models simultaneously for better prediction accuracy. In proposed analysis with existing data from 178 toddlers (50% late talkers), we will use the random forest algorithm to run a series of random decision trees to determine both the combination of and individual ranking of predictors that contribute most to overall accuracy of predicting expressive vocabulary size at 30 months of age. Predictors identified as most important will suggest areas of future research to improve early identification of language delays and disorders. Funding Source: NIDCD R01DC016273.


‘It’s Not a Phase, Mom’: Examining the Ongoing Effects of DLD on the Written Language of College Students

            Alexander Tucci; University of Arizona
            Elena Plante; University of Arizona
            Becky Vance; University of Arizona

This work is part of a larger study that sought to fill a critical gap in our understanding of functional outcomes in early adulthood for students with developmental language disorder (DLD). We explored how college students with and without DLD differ in terms of the quality and grammatical complexity of their writing. Fifty college students (25 with DLD and 25 with typical language (TL), M-age = 19) completed expository writing samples in typed and handwritten conditions. Samples were transcribed and coded in SALT for grammatical complexity, and errors in spelling, grammar, mechanics, and semantics. Preliminary results suggest that students with DLD are more likely to make errors of all types on a per-word and per-utterance basis than their peers with TL. Initial comparisons of grammatical complexity suggest little difference across groups. Deeper analysis of error patterns and clause and structure controlling for modality and topic will be discussed. Results of this work will be used to inform functional writing assessment and intervention for young adults with DLD. This project was partially funded by a UArizona GPSC Research and Project Gran


Young adults with dyslexia and their ability to identify stressed syllables within a poetry task

            Matt Hopper; Oklahoma State University
            Peter Richtsmeier; Oklahoma State University
            Hannah Krimm; University of Georgia
            Michelle Moore; West Virginia University
            Yu Zhang; Oklahoma State University

The goal of the study was to compare young adults with and without dyslexia for their ability to identify prosodic stress in nursery rhymes and poems. Thirty-eight young adults completed the task, 14 of whom reported a history of dyslexia. Materials for stress marking included nursery rhymes like “Mary, Mary quite contrary” and “Little Jack Horner”, as well as portions of the poems “The Princess” by Alfred Lord Tennyson and “Country Music” by Michael Robbins. Overall accuracy in the task was below 80%, indicating that it was generally difficult for all participants. Although the performance of the participants with dyslexia did not significantly differ from the performance of those without dyslexia, a stepwise regression indicated that oral reading fluency was significantly related to participants’ performance. Oral language was also implicated via participants’ scores on the CELF-5 Word Definitions task. Sensitivity to prosodic stress may capture aspects of both written and oral language ability and therefore could have diagnostic utility.


Verbal fluency as an estimate of vocabulary size in bilingual children and adolescents

            Daphnée Dubé; McGill University
            Elin Thordardottir; McGill University

Verbal fluency (VF), involving naming as many words as possible in a given category in one minute, is frequently used to assess executive function skills in bilinguals, but is also related to vocabulary. This study capitalized on this relationship to assess whether VF can be clinically useful to predict vocabulary size in bilingual children.  The vocabulary composition of words produced was also examined. Participants were 113 French monolinguals and French-English bilinguals, age 6 to 17 years. VF (naming animals), using a simple coding procedure, significantly predicted receptive and expressive vocabulary scores in the same language as the VF test, but not in the other language. Participants produced more unique words and fewer translation equivalents when tested in the language to which they had been exposed more. Infrequent words were more likely to be produced by those with higher vocabulary scores in the same language. The results indicate that VF can be used clinically to help estimate vocabulary size in each language of bilingual children. The vocabulary composition results support the validity of VF as a vocabulary measure. This study was supported by SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) and CRIR (Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Rehabilitation of Greater Montreal).


Utility of spelling for differentiating adults with and without dyslexia

            Hannah Krimm; University of Georgia
            Yu Zhang; Oklahoma State University
            Michelle Moore; West Virginia University
            Peter Richtsmeier; Oklahoma State University

The purpose of this study was to examine the utility of a 15-word spelling test (Fidler et al., 2011) for differentiating adults with and without word reading difficulties (i.e., dyslexia). Participants were 26 undergraduate students who completed the spelling test as part of a larger language and literacy battery. Responses on the spelling test were scored as correct or incorrect; spelling score was the percent of words a participant spelled correctly. There was a significant difference in spelling score between participants with and without dyslexia. Results suggest that the 15-word spelling test may be useful for identifying adults with dyslexia.


The syntactic properties of the early vocabulary of children on the autism spectrum

            Jonet Artis; New York University
            Diagana Safiatu; New York University      
            Sudha Arunachalam; New York University

Autistic children often demonstrate less of a gap between receptive and expressive vocabulary size when compared to nonspectrum children. In the current study, we ask whether the syntactic properties of the vocabulary words are associated with their receptive vocabulary and the words that move into the expressive vocabulary. To explore this question, we used data collected from MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory I checklists of autistic children and nonspectrum children between the ages of 12 and 34 months. Our results indicated that while autistic children demonstrated smaller receptive vocabularies than their nonspectrum peers, this difference was not driven by the syntactic properties of the words. We also found no group differences in the types of words that moved from the receptive to expressive vocabulary. However, we did find that both groups were more likely to produce syntactically simple words than syntactically complex words. Thus, this study provides evidence for early delays rather than differences in vocabulary acquisition in autism. Funding: NIH R01 DC016592


The Sentence Diversity Priming Task: An Efficient Tool for Assessing Toddlers’ Sentence Production

            Windi Krok; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
            Emily Harrington; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
            Tracy Preza; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
            Mary Kate Buchheit; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
            Emily Harriott; Northwestern University
            Kaitlyn Fredian; Northwestern University
            Lauren Wakschlag; Northwestern University
            Elizabeth Norton; Northwestern University
            Pamela Hadley; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The ability to produce diverse sentences is a critical developmental expectation by age 3. However, parent-toddler language samples in play may not reveal the diversity of sentences toddlers can produce. The Sentence Diversity Priming Task (SDPT) is a structured protocol designed to remotely assess sentence diversity with high levels of discourse support. Thirty-two typically developing toddlers, 30-35 months of age, completed the SDPT and a remotely collected parent-child language sample. Compared to the SDPT, language samples elicited more complete and intelligible utterances and different words (NDW); however, the SDPT promoted higher mean length of utterance (MLU) and more diverse verbs, 3rd person subjects, and 3rd person subject-verb combinations. MLUs and NDWs on the SDPT and in language samples had moderate and weak positive relationships, respectively. There were no other significant relationships between the tasks. The SDPT is an efficient measure of sentence diversity. By creating multiple opportunities to produce 3rd person sentences under high levels of support, the SDPT reveals toddlers’ capacity for producing diverse sentences and expands the range of differences observed between children.

NIDCD R01 DC016273


The Home Literacy Environment’s Effect on Language and Literacy Outcomes in Monolingual and Bilingual First and Second Grade Students

            Sarah Carney; University of Rhode Island
            Vanessa Harwood; University of Rhode Island
            Ronilee Mooney; Newport School District
            Alisa Baron; University of Rhode Island

The Home Literacy Environment (HLE) is a physical and relational construct that encompasses activities, attitudes, and materials in the home that enhance and contribute to a child’s overall literacy competencies. Previous research suggests that HLEs that encourage both inside out (phonological awareness, decoding, and letter knowledge) and outside in (language, vocabulary, content, narrative understanding, and conceptual knowledge) literacy skills predict later reading ability in young children. This study focuses on how the HLE and socioeconomic status (SES) affect inside out and outside in outcome variables in 27 monolingual and Spanish-English bilingual first and second graders. We used 2 regression models to measure the amount of variance explained by the HLE (measured by a HLE checklist) and SES in 1) inside out (measured by CTOPP-2 Phonological Awareness Composite, and DIBELS Word Reading Fluency) and 2) outside in (measured by CELF-5 Core Language Score and ROWPVT-4 Standard Score) literacy variables. Preliminary results demonstrated that HLE and SES significantly predicted phonological awareness and oral language. Clinical implications regarding the importance of home literacy practices will be discussed.


The effect of neighborhood density on phoneme blending in children with hearing loss and children with typical hearing

            Courtney Trevino; Texas Christian University
            Krystal Werfel; Boys Town National Research Hospital
            Emily Lund; Texas Christian University

This study investigates the longitudinal effects of neighborhood density on phoneme blending skills of children with hearing loss (CHL) and children with typical hearing (CTH).Two cohorts of children participated in the study. Cohort 1 (n = 52) included 25 CTH and 27 CHL. Cohort 2 (n = 25) included 13 CTH and 12 CHL. Participants completed a phoneme blending task with high- and low-density words twice across 6–12-months. In both cohorts, CHL demonstrated a delay in phoneme blending skills. All children in Cohort 1 demonstrated growth in skill from the first to second test. In Cohort 2, all children plateaued in development; CNH approached ceiling, and CHL’s deficit persisted and did not grow from first to second grade. All children in Cohort 1 and CHL in Cohort 2 experienced a high-density facilitation effect. CHL develop phoneme awareness skills more slowly than CNH. The plateau in development suggests that CHL’s delay may not resolve, which could impact future literacy skills. The density facilitation effect may have implications for intervention.

Funding source: NIH/NIDCD R01DC017173 to KL Werfel, E Lund



The development of plural and verbal morphology in Mandarin-English bilingual two-and-a-half-year-olds

            Katrina Nicholas; California State University, East Bay
            Eve Higby; California State University, East Bay
            Ogechi Okeke; California State University, East Bay
            Jennifer Do; California State University, East Bay
            John Bunce; California State University, East Bay
            Eli Angstadt-Leto; California State University, East Bay
            Priscilla Helen; California State University, East Bay
            Javier Jasso; University of Texas at Austin

Rationale: One of the challenges that speech-language pathologists face in evaluating the grammatical skills of bilingual children is that sometimes the errors in their English utterances may look similar to those of monolingual children with language disorder. We examine whether typically developing Mandarin-English bilinguals omit morphosyntactic forms for plurality (‘-s’) and present progressive tense (‘-ing’) and instead use Mandarin-influenced modifiers (‘two’ and ‘now’) preceding the noun or verb in English.

Methods: Twenty-four typically developing monolingual English and bilingual Mandarin-English two-and-a-half-year-olds participated via videoconferencing in an elicited production task for plural nouns and present progressive verbs. Parent reported vocabulary inventories were collected in each language.

Results: Group analyses show that Mandarin-English bilinguals omit plural ‘-s’ and present progressive ‘-ing’ more frequently than English monolinguals. Many Mandarin-English bilinguals used the Mandarin-influenced ‘two’ and ‘now’, with individual differences in vocabulary.

Conclusions: Diagnostic decisions determining language difference versus disorder should be inclusive of cross-linguistic influenced expression of similar concepts.

Funding sources: Faculty Support Grant (first author) and National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship (SBE-1715073; second author).


The contribution of cognitive abilities to sentence repetition performance in bilingual children

            Juliana Ronderos; University of Houston
            Anny Castilla-Earls; University of Houston

Performance in sentence repetition (SR) is often used to discriminate between children with and without developmental language disorder (DLD). Various mechanisms are thought to be involved in SR, including linguistic and cognitive abilities. The purpose of this study is to examine the relative contribution of linguistic and cognitive abilities to explain the difficulties involved in SR for bilinguals with DLD. 113 Spanish-English bilingual children (4;0-8;2) were administered a battery including cognitive and language assessments. To explore the contribution of the different measures to SR performance in bilingual children, we conducted hierarchical regression analyses using age, language measures, and cognitive measures of short-term memory, cognitive flexibility, and attention to predict CELF SR scores. Results revealed these factors explained 65-78% of the variability in SR scores. As expected, measures of linguistic abilities contributed the greatest amount to the variability in SR performance, but measures of short-term memory also significantly contributed to the SR scores. These results align with the broader literature on subtle nonlinguistic limitations in children with DLD.

 This research was supported by NIH Grant 1K23DC015835-01, awarded to Dr. Anny Castilla-Earls


The acquisition of a rule-based sound sequence in typically developing 4- to 6-year-old children

            McKenzie Scoppa; University of Texas at Dallas
            LouAnn Gerken; University of Arizona
            Samantha Glickman; University of Texas at Dallas
            Sara Benham; Indiana University
            Lisa Goffman; University of Texas at Dallas

The aim of this research was to determine whether 4- to 6-year old children with typical development are sensitive to a phonological rule—the OR rule—that is learnable by infants, but not by adults (Gerken et al., 2019). The rule in question is a sequential pattern regularity specifying that, in a CVCV nonword, when C1 is voiced then C2 is voiced OR when C1 is voiceless then C2 is voiceless. Two groups of children practiced producing four novel words over six different sessions. One group of children was exposed to a set of words that incorporated the OR rule. A control group produced similar words, with the critical difference that the stimuli did not involve a single pattern. Generalization probes were included in sessions 5 and 6. Children in the OR group showed more accurate productions than those in the control group, suggesting sensitivity to the OR rule. These results provide a developmental framework for assessing how children with developmental language disorder acquire phonological sequences that are central to grammatical learning.

Supported by NIH R01DC016813 and R01DC018410


Telepractice and Traditional Administration of the SPELT-4.

            Rebecca Burton; University of Arizona
            Elena Plante; University of Arizona
            Becky Vance; University of Arizona

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the movement towards delivery of speech-language services through telepractice.  When it comes to tests, telepractice delivery may or may not prove equivalent to traditional face-to-face administration.  Challenges including audibility, particularly when production of bound morphemes are involved, may make telepractice administration and scoring of language tests substantially different under telepractice vs. traditional methods of test administration.  In this study, we assessed the equivalence of telepractice vs. traditional administration of the standardization version of the Structured Photographic Elicited Language Test—4th Edition.  The two versions of the test were administered approximately two weeks apart and the order of test administration to children (19m, 14f) ages 4 to 8 years of age was counterbalanced to account for order effects.  On average, scores for the two administrations were very similar (r=.92).  We report on differences between administration modalities and inter-reliability of scoring for telepractice administration.


Teacher and Parent Reports of Concern about Language Ability among School-Age Children from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds

            Alison Hendricks; University at Buffalo

Accurate identification of Developmental Language Disorder is difficult for among students from culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) backgrounds both due to linguistic biases on many standardized language measures and biases within society more generally. Teachers and parents may prove an important source of information about the students’ language abilities, but previous studies suggest that parents may not be fully aware of their children’s difficulty with language, and teachers may not be aware of how linguistic variation affects student’s language use. This study explored the relationship between teacher and parent reports of students’ language ability in school-age children from CLD backgrounds. Similar to previous studies, few parents reported concern about their children’s language ability while teachers appeared to be more sensitive to language difficulties. Preliminary analyses found the relationship between parent and teacher reports was not significant. Future research is needed to verify whether teacher reports are accurate compared to standardized language measures and whether teacher report can be leveraged to improve the identification of DLD among school-age children from CLD backgrounds.  (Funding: NIH/NIDCD R21DC018355, PI: Hendricks)


Syntactic Growth in Adolescent Boys with Fragile X Syndrome and Down Syndrome: A Longitudinal Study

            Jamie Linert; University of Minnesota
            Lizbeth Finestack; University of Minnesota
            Leonard Abbeduto; University of California-Davis

Despite the robust literature documenting the language profiles of fragile X syndrome (FXS) and Down syndrome (DS), little is known about how language ability in these syndromes changes over time. This is especially true for adolescents. The current study addresses this gap by investigating language change in adolescents (ages 10-16 years) with FXS and DS over the course of four years. We report the change in syntactic abilities using both language assessments and the Index of Productive Syntax (IPSyn). We will use a linear mixed effects regression model to compare measures within groups to assess growth and possible plateau, and between groups to compare growth patterns. These results will have implications for identifying effective assessment and treatment approaches to continue to improve communication skills in young people with FXS and DS.

This research was supported by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grants: R01HD024356, U54HD079125).


Standardized language tests do not capture spontaneous language skills for older children with ASD

            Emily Zane; James Madison University
            Nicole Sperrazza; James Madison University
            Ruth B. Grossman; Emerson College

There are reasons to suspect that individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show differing levels of language competence when language skills are assessed using a formal standardized test battery versus a spontaneous language sample. Social and time pressures are minimized during a standardized language test, which could result in inflated scores that belie underlying language challenges. The current study investigates this issue by comparing frequencies of spontaneous language errors produced by two groups of older children – a group with ASD and one without – who earn statistically similar scores on the CELF-V. Findings reveal that participants with ASD make more than twice as many semantic and morphosyntactic errors, despite being “language matched” with their neurotypical peers. Further, CELF-V scores do not predict the frequency of language error rates for either group. These results suggest that standardized language scores may be a poor predictor of actual linguistic performance for individuals with ASD, yielding important implications for both our understanding of language competence in ASD, generally, and for assessment decisions, specifically.
Funding source: NIH-NIDCD R01 DC012774-01.


SLPs’ Perceptions of Effective Language and Early Literacy Instruction for Pre-K Children with Developmental Language Disorder

            Danika Pfeiffer; Kennedy Krieger Institute/Johns Hopkins University
            Julie Feuerstein; University of Central Florida
            Rebecca Landa; Kennedy Krieger Institute/Johns Hopkins University

 SLPs are important stakeholders in the provision of effective instruction for pre-K children with developmental language disorder (DLD). The purpose of this qualitative study was to elicit and analyze school-based SLPs’ perceptions related to language and early literacy instruction for pre-K children with DLD. Eight school-based SLPs participated in a 1-hour virtual focus group. Their responses were analyzed using conventional content analysis. Coders generated emergent themes related to SLPs’ perceptions of: (a) language and early literacy skills targeted in inclusive pre-K classrooms; (b) collaboration with pre-K teachers to support children with DLD; and (c) classroom and/or administrative supports needed to enhance instruction for pre-K children with DLD. These SLPs’ insights and recommendations make an important contribution to the literature guiding school-based service delivery for pre-K children with DLD and may be used to inform administrators’ allocation of resources to enhance their instruction. This research was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R324A180085 (PI: R. Landa) to Hugo W. Moser Research Institute at Kennedy Krieger Inc.


Separating presentation of words and their referents facilitates learning for children with and without Developmental Language Disorder

            Ron Pomper; Boys Town National Research Hospital
            Timothy Arbisi-Kelm; Boys Town National Research Hospital
            Nichole Eden; Boys Town National Research Hospital
            Karla McGregor; Boys Town National Research Hospital

Rationale: Children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) struggle to learn new words. The current project investigated the effect of separating exposure to novel words and their novel referents on learning for children with and without DLD. Methods: 9- to 11-year-old children with DLD (n=14) and with typical language development (n=36) were taught novel names of aliens. We manipulated whether exposure occurred separately (name first or referent first) or simultaneously. Results: Children were significantly more accurate in identifying the correct forms of novel words within an array of phonological foils in the name first (69.2%) compared to the referent first (53.6%) and simultaneous (52.4%) conditions. Conclusions: These findings have implications for vocabulary interventions, suggesting that children with and without DLD have limited processing capacities and learn best when they can separately encode information about novel words and their referents. Funding: NIH-NIDCD2R01DC011742-06.


Science Vocabulary Knowledge and Science Achievement for Children with and without Developmental Language Disorder

            Jessie A. Erikson; University of Arizona
            Mary Alt; University of Arizona
            Adarsh Pyarelal; University of Arizona

On recent nationwide measures of science achievement, the majority of students with learning disabilities demonstrated low levels of proficiency in science. This includes children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), who fall behind their peers in both vocabulary and academic achievement. Although vocabulary knowledge is linked to academic achievement, we have limited data on the details of this relationship. Importantly, educators have limited time and are not able to teach everything. This study examines the relationship between science vocabulary breadth, science vocabulary depth, language skills, and performance on a high-stakes standardized science achievement measure, to better understand the role of vocabulary knowledge in academic achievement. Preliminary results indicate that science vocabulary breadth and general language skills predict science achievement; however, science vocabulary depth does not. Although vocabulary depth may still play an important role in science education, these findings suggest that expanding the science vocabulary breadth of students with and without DLD could improve their outcomes on standardized measures of science achievement. This work was supported by a University of Arizona Graduate and Professional Student Council Research and Project (ReaP) grant.


Electronic Toys Decrease Child Spoken Language

            Jennifer Johnson; Michigan State University
            Courtney Venker; Michigan State University

Creating rich, play-based interactions to facilitate spoken language in toddlers and preschoolers with ASD is critical, but there is a need to better understand play contexts that support this goal. The aim of this experimental study was to test the impact of toy type (traditional versus electronic) on the quantity and lexical diversity of spoken language produced by children with ASD and age-matched children with TD (2 – 5 years old). Participants were 14 children with ASD and 14 children with TD and their parents. Parent-child dyads participated in 10-minute play sessions, one with traditional toys and one with electronic toys. Regardless of diagnostic group, children talked significantly more and produced significantly more unique words during play with traditional toys than play with electronic toys.  Traditional toys may provide a more supportive environment for linguistic interactions between parents and their preschool aged children. This work was supported by funding from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (R21 DC 016102; Venker, PI) and from the Michigan State University Center for Research in Autism, Intellectual, and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (C-RAIND).


Phonological Complexity in Novel Gesture Learning: Implications for Domain-General Mechanisms of Language Development

            Laiah Factor; The University of Texas at Dallas
            Grace McBride; Dallas Independent School District
            Kathryn Kreidler; The University of Texas at Dallas
            Isabelle Berry; The University of Texas at Dallas
            Natalia Savkovic; The University of Texas at Dallas
            Lisa Goffman; The University of Texas at Dallas

Speech and gesture are linked to language, recruiting both the phonological and motor systems. The aim of the present work was to assess the learnability of a set of phonologically and motorically complex gestures in typical children. This work provides a framework for understanding phonological and motor sequence learning deficits in children with developmental language disorder (DLD). Over six sessions, sixteen 4- to 5-year-old children practiced producing three novel gestures. For one group of children, the gestures all shared a challenging aspect of production, coordinated oppositional hand movements. The second group of children served as controls, producing gestures that were motorically simple and did not incorporate a systematic pattern. Generalization probes were included in sessions five and six. While oppositional gesture training did not improve phonological accuracy, it induced more accurate acquisition of simple, non-oppositional gestures in the generalization phase. Perseverative errors were observed during training. Children in the oppositional pattern condition reduced perseverative errors during generalization. Findings are consistent with complexity learnability theory with implications for typical learners and those with DLD. Funding: NIH R01DC016813


Person reference via pronouns or verbs has different effects on false belief performance: longitudinal study from Czech toddlers

            Anna Chromá; Faculty of Arts, Charles University
            Filip Smolík; Institute of Psychology, Czech Academy of Sciences

Personal and possessive pronouns are closed-class elements related to grammatical as well as social development (e.g. Loveland, 1984; Lewis & Ramsey, 2004). The referents of pronouns depend on the context, and especially the first and second person may be confusing in this respect, unless children have a good understanding of people’s communicative intentions. We examined whether the mastery of personal pronouns and person-inflected verb forms predicted the success in false belief tasks, which are viewed as milestones in social-cognitive development. Sixty-one Czech children participated in a two-wave (29 and 43 months) study that examined elicited and spontaneous production of pronouns and verb inflections, as well as a FB task (unexpected transfer). Regression analyses revealed a number of significant unique effects of person reference at 29 months on the FB score at 43 months, above and beyond the effects of general language skills. Both the elicited and spontaneous pronoun data show effects of second-person mastery, while the spontaneous verb-person also first-person. Overall, pronouns and person-inflected verbs in 2-year-olds are related to subsequent development of social cognition.


Peer Friendship Networks of Children at risk for Developmental Language Disorder

            Jason Chow; University of Maryland at College Park
            Kristen Granger; Virginia Commonwealth University
            Michael Broda; Virginia Commonwealth University

The purpose of this study was to determine the extent that language skills and risk for developmental language disorder contribute to kindergarten children’s classroom-based friendship networks. We assessed language skills and collected friendship data via individual interviews of 419 children from 21 kindergarten classrooms. Using social network analysis, we found that language skills were significantly associated with friendship centrality and reciprocity after controlling for classroom and child-level factors. Children classified as at risk for developmental language disorder were significantly less central to friendship networks, and the odds of a reciprocal friendship tie were more than 50 percent lower compared to children who were not classified as at risk. Of children at risk, girls were significantly more central than boys. We present these findings in the context of future research and implications for intervention development and classroom practice.

Funding Source: Institute of Education Sciences (R324B200039).


Nonword repetition performance in an adversity-exposed preschool sample

            Claire Selin; Pennsylvania State University
            Yo Jackson; Pennsylvania State University

Children exposed to adversity are at increased risk for underachievement in language, reading, and academics; however, how early that risk appears and the mechanisms underlying that risk are unclear. The purpose of this study was to investigate nonword repetition performance in an adversity-exposed sample of preschool-aged children (n = 92) and identify whether features of the adversity exposure (e.g., dosage, severity, frequency) associated with performance. The participants completed the Syllable Repetition Task (SRT), and their parent completed a comprehensive adversity questionnaire providing data on the child’s cumulative lifetime exposure. A third of the participants (34.78%) did not meet age expectations on the SRT, but no features of the adversity exposure associated with SRT performance. Risk for underachievement in language, reading, and academics appears early in the preschool years for children exposed to adversity. Preschool children at risk for or with known adversity exposure will benefit from prevention services and early identification for developmental language and reading disorders. This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health R01MH079252 and T32HD101390.

Poster Session #3


Using visual analog scales to assess effects of Spanish phonological intervention for Spanish-English bilingual children

            Alicia Escobedo; San Diego State University/UC San Diego
            Philip Combiths; University of Iowa
            Fanny Sarmiento-Martinez; San Diego State University
            Abigail John; San Diego State University/UC San Diego
            Irina Potapova; San Diego State University
            Jessica Barlow; San Diego State University
            Sonja Pruitt-Lord; San Diego State University

Measurements of effectiveness are a critical component of intervention, as they reflect what changes occurred during or after treatment (Gierut, 1998). In phonological intervention, one commonly used measure is the percent accuracy of an intervention target produced by a child with a speech sound disorder. However, percent accuracy of targets often does not capture subtle changes that children make throughout intervention (Munson et al., 2012). The current study investigates the use of visual analog scales (VAS) to measure intervention effectiveness with five young Spanish-English bilingual children who received Spanish phonological intervention. All participants (n = 5) were Spanish-dominant bilinguals with a speech sound disorder between the ages of 4 and 6. Each participant was assigned an intervention target based on sounds missing from their phonological system. Digital recordings of 18 treatment sessions were reviewed to allow for scoring of children’s treatment target using a VAS. The results of this study will provide more information on how VAS may capture finer, more nuanced changes made to children’s treatment targets during intervention that are not captured through percent accuracy measures. Funding: NIDCD R21DC017201.


Using Self-Directed Speech Production to Predict Tower of Hanoi Performance in Preschoolers with DLD

            Leah Kapa; University of Arizona

Children with developmental language disorder (DLD) have executive function deficits that may be related to their delayed development of self-directed speech (i.e., speech to oneself to guide thoughts and behaviors). We examined the relationship between self-directed speech production and performance on the Tower of Hanoi planning task among twenty preschoolers with DLD. Logistic regression was used to determine if the production of self-directed speech predicted whether children solved or failed Tower of Hanoi trials. Self-directed speech was a negative predictor of Tower of Hanoi trial accuracy, and self-directed speech production was positively correlated with trial difficulty. This pattern of results suggests that the negative relationship between self-directed speech and planning accuracy may be explained by the fact that participants produced self-directed speech more often on difficult trials that they were more likely to fail. This is consistent with findings from typically developing participants that challenging tasks elicit more self-directed speech. Taken together, these results show that preschoolers with DLD spontaneously produce self-directed speech during planning tasks and are more likely to use self-directed speech when facing higher cognitive demands.


The relative impacts of ADHD and SLI on children’s judgments of grammaticality

            Sean Redmond; University of Utah
            Mabel Rice; University of Kansas
            Andrea Ash; University of Utah

Rationale: Grammaticality judgments (GJs) represent a potentially useful clinical marker for specific language impairment (SLI). Previous work suggests GJs may be influenced by children’s executive functioning. Because ADHD may commonly co-occur with SLI, consideration of potential impacts of ADHD on children’s GJs is warranted. Methods: A GJ task was administered to 64 children (age: 6;1-8;5) along with a battery of verbal, nonverbal, ADHD, and executive function measures. Potential group differences were examined [TD, ADHD, SLI, ADHD+SLI], as well as levels of association among children’s GJs and other measures from the battery. Results: Children with SLI and ADHD+SLI performed significantly lower than children with TD. Children with ADHD performed similarly to children with TD. Children with SLI performed similarly to children with ADHD+SLI. Associations between children’s GJs and their ADHD and executive function symptoms were weak and non-significant. GJs were moderately and significantly correlated with other language measures. Conclusions: GJs join nonword repetition, sentence recall, and tense-marking as an efficient index of language disorder that seems to be unaffected by children’s ADHD status. Funding provided by NIDCD


The frequency and function of discourse-marker “like” in the speech of older children with ASD

            Emily Zane; James Madison University
            Rebekah Jones; James Madison University
            Geralyn Timler; James Madison University
            Ruth B. Grossman; Emerson College

Discourse markers (e.g., “I mean” and “well”) aid in conversational flow, reciprocity, and in conveying the speaker’s message. Previous research finds that individuals with ASD use discourse markers less often than neurotypical individuals, especially those markers that are listener-directed (“um”) vs. ones that are speaker-oriented, (e.g., “uh”). However, the use of one ubiquitous listener-directed discourse marker, “like” (e.g., “This is, like, my favorite”), has not yet been studied in ASD. The current study examines the overall frequency and patterns of usage of “like” in the conversational speech of older children with ASD. We compare frequencies/patterns of use to age-/language-matched neurotypical peers. Against predictions, findings reveal equivalent frequencies of “like” use between groups and similar patterns of usage. These findings suggest that not all discourse markers are similarly underused by adolescents with ASD, even those that are listener oriented. In this study, participants with ASD used “like” to signal nuanced pragmatic information to their listener, thereby revealing unexpected pragmatic strengths that have gone unnoticed until now. Funding source: NIH-NIDCD R01 DC012774-01.


The Effects of Speaker and Exemplar Variability on Children’s Cross-Situational Word Learning

            Kimberly Crespo; University of Wisconsin-Madison
            Margarita Kaushanskaya; University of Wisconsin-Madison

Cross-situational statistical word learning (CSWL) – the ability to learn words by tracking co-occurrence statistics of words and their referents over time – has been identified as a fundamental mechanism underlying lexical learning but has not been tested against variable input. In the present study, we examine the separate and combined effects of speaker and exemplar variability on CSWL in typically developing (TD) English-speaking monolingual children. Results revealed that variability in speakers and exemplars did not facilitate or hinder XSWL performance. However, input that varied in both speakers and exemplars simultaneously hindered children’s word-learning. Results from this work suggest that accommodating multiple forms of variable input may incur costs. Overall, this research may provide new theoretical insights into how fundamental mechanisms of word-learning scale to accommodate more complex and naturalistic forms of input. This research was supported by NIH grants R01 DC011750 awarded to Margarita Kaushanskaya and F31 DC019025 awarded to Kimberly Crespo and Margarita Kaushanskaya.


The Effects of Language Proficiency on Narrative Macrostructure in Spanish-English Bilinguals

            Maria Kapantzoglou; Portland State University
            Jenny Magallon; Portland State University

This study examined the effects of Spanish and English language proficiency on narrative macrostructure skills of Spanish-English speaking children. Forty typically developing Spanish-English speaking children, 5-7 years of age, participated in the study. Language proficiency in each language was measured as a continuum of performance using children’s oral language samples. Narrative macrostructure was also measured based on children’s Spanish and English language samples. Linear regressions were performed to determine the effects of language proficiency in each language on story grammar elements. Results indicated that children’s Spanish and English proficiency affect their narrative performance.


The Effect of Word-Learning Biases on Early Vocabulary Acquisition in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

            Eileen Haebig; Louisiana State University
            Claire Bourgeois; Louisiana State University
            Christopher Cox; Louisiana State University

Vocabulary composition and word-learning biases are closely interrelated in typical development.?Learning new words involves attending to certain properties?to?facilitate word?learning. Such word-learning biases are influenced by perceptually and conceptually salient word features, including high imageability, concreteness, and iconicity. This study examined the association of vocabulary knowledge and word features in young children with ASD (n = 280) and typically developing (TD) toddlers (n = 1,054). Secondary analyses were conducted using data from the National Database for Autism Research and the Wordbank database. Expressive vocabulary was measured using the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory. Although the trajectories for concreteness, iconicity, and imageability are similar between children with ASD and TD toddlers, divergences were observed. Differences in imageability are seen early but resolve to a common trajectory; differences in iconicity are small but consistent; and differences in concreteness only emerge after both groups reach a simultaneous peak, before converging again. This study reports unique information about the nonlinear growth patterns associated with each word feature for and distinctions in these growth patterns between the groups.

Funding sources: Research Competitiveness Subprogram – Louisiana Board of Regents


The Diagnostic Accuracy of Bilingual PGU in Bilingual Spanish-Speaking Children with and without Developmental Language Disorders

            Michelle Hernandez; University of Houston
            Anny Castilla-Earls; University of Houston

This study compared the diagnostic accuracy of Percentage of Grammatical Utterances (PGU) and Mean-Length of Utterance (MLU) in differentiating bilingual children with and without developmental language disorder (DLD) using 2 approaches: best language and both languages. This study included 69 Spanish-English bilingual children ages 4;0 to 6;11 (years; months) with (n = 33) and without DLD (n = 36).?Story generation and story retelling tasks were used to elicit language samples in English and Spanish. The diagnostic accuracy of PGU was calculated using two methods: (1) Best language (highest PGU between the English and Spanish and MLU for that language); (2) Both languages (combined PGU that included the total number of grammatical utterances over the total number of utterances across Spanish and English language samples and MLU in each language).?Findings indicated that using a bilingual PGU in combination with MLU in both languages yielded the best model. These findings support using a combined method?of PGU and MLU in English and Spanish when assessing bilingual children.


The Comorbidity of ADHD and DLD in School-Aged Children, L2 Acquisition, and the Types of Errors they Produce

            Amélie Albert; Laurentian University
            Chantal Mayer-Crittenden; Laurentian University

The purpose of this study was to analyze the effects of the co-occurrence of developmental language disorder (DLD) and attention-deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADHD) on language development and second language acquisition in a minority Francophone setting. Results from different tests were observed to analyze the types of errors produced by bilingual children having only ADHD, DLD or both. An unpublished non-word repetition task, as well as the Recalling Sentences subtest of the CELF-5 battery, were used to assess the children. The data for this research comes from a longitudinal study and 15 subjects were categorized into three different groups: a group of children with ADHD only (n=5), a group of children with DLD only (n=5) and a group of children with concurrent ADHD and DLD (n=5). The different language domains that were analyzed were verbal working memory and morphosyntactic knowledge. The results demonstrated that like DLD, ADHD may have an impact on language and that speech-language pathologists should be aware of the types of errors that affected children can produce on these tasks.


Sharing the Characteristics of “Caregiver-Child Interactions” to Improve the Reproducibility and Replicability of Your Research

            Betul Cakir-Dilek; University of Minnesota- Twin Cities
            Marianne Elmquist; University of Wisconsin-Madison
            Andrea Ford; University of Minnesota- Twin Cities
            Kirstin Kuchler; University of Minnesota- Twin Cities    
            Sarah Jane Brown; University of Minnesota- Twin Cities
            Amy Riegelman; University of Minnesota- Twin Cities
            Scott Marsalis; University of Minnesota- Twin Cities
            Lizbeth Finestack; University of Minnesota- Twin Cities

Caregiver-child interactions (CCIs) are an important and common context for measuring caregiver and child language and communication behaviors when researchers seek to evaluate an intervention’s effectiveness. In order to increase the replicability, reproducibility, and generalizability of an intervention’s effectiveness, we need to understand how, and to what extent, researchers describe this measurement context itself. In that vein, our purpose was to explore specific measurement features of CCIs. Using scoping review methods we identified randomized control trials (RCT) (n = 11), non-RCTs (n = 2), and single group studies (n = 8). We extracted information related to the characteristics of CCIs. Studies varied in defining the characteristics of CCIs including the length, context, and how the interaction was measured. We found that the reviewed studies did not frequently report information about these characteristics. Our results indicate the need for presenting more detailed information about CCIs because it affects the reproducibility and replicability of the studies. We will conclude with recommendations for describing CCIs when used as a context to measure caregiver and child language and communication behaviors.

Funding Source: T32 DC005359, P50HD105353


Shared book reading and language development: What is actually being measured?

            Megan Figueroa; University of Arizona

Shared book reading is hypothesized to moderate the effects of socioeconomic disadvantage on language outcomes, potentially because the context of book reading facilitates the use of so-called “high-quality” linguistic input. Here, I examine the possibility that uncovering a correlation between shared book reading and later language skills has no explanatory value on its own. These studies confound “language skills” with vocabulary acquisition––context-dependent, socially-determined knowledge that continues throughout one’s lifetime. What researchers are actually measuring are what words children learn from a specific activity—shared book reading. I examined meta-analyses measuring the effects of early shared book reading on children’s later language skills. Studies tend to link literacy practices at home with larger vocabularies based on standardized measures like MCDI and PPVT. Vocabulary becomes a stand in for “language skills” and, ultimately, for social class and all that comes with that privilege.


Reminiscing Conversations and Clinical Collaborations: An exploration of motivational interviewing techniques to foster more inclusive intervention

            Charlotte Clark; University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire
            Jerry Hoepner; University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire
            Rebecca Jarzynski; University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire
            Ryan Nelson; University of Louisiana, at Lafayette
            MiKayla Schuebel; University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire
            Marissa Niehoff; University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire

Research demonstrates how parent-child reminiscing conversations are important to a child’s cognitive, socio-emotional, and language development. Therefore, speech language pathologists are recognizing the importance of including such conversations as a part of intervention. Research also demonstrates, however, that there are important cultural and socio-economic differences in how these conversations manifest between parent and children. Collaborating with parents is essential to understand their own particular values and expectations when it comes to reminiscing. The aim of this study is to explore the potential of motivational interviewing techniques as a way of fostering collaboration between parents and clinicians with different backgrounds. Motivational interviewing has been used in healthcare and educational settings to empower those who seek to make a change. We use inductive analysis to examine the impact of motivational interviewing on clinician- parent collaboration as they explore together the therapeutic benefits of reminiscing with children. Knowledge of how to use motivational interviewing techniques to foster such collaboration will support clinicians in implementing reminiscing interventions that are appropriate for individual families.


Complex Syntax Use in Young Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children

            Camryn Lowe; University of Kansas
            Jena McDaniel; University of Kansas
            Angie Walker; Kansas School for the Deaf

The aim of this study is to describe how frequently young deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children use 14 different types of complex syntax. We transcribed and coded language samples from three contexts (play, narrative, conversation) for 42 DHH children (mean age = 42 months). We analyzed productions of complex syntax attempts, use of specific types of complex syntax, and density of complex syntax. The results show infrequent use of complex syntax for the youngest age groups and greater use in older children, as expected. The older participants also used a greater variety of complex syntax forms. Nonetheless, the older participants as a group exhibited complex syntax use below expectations for their chronological age. Evidence of the potential influence of language sample context (i.e., narrative versus conversation) was also observed. Findings from this study will provide accessible guidance for clinicians for evaluating complex syntax use, selecting complex syntax structures to target, and assessing progress. Future longitudinal analyses are planned. This research is supported by a University of Kansas Undergraduate Research Award.


Phonological short-term and long-term memory effects on nonword repetition performance in college students with and without dyslexia

            Michelle Moore; West Virginia University
            Hannah Krimm; University of Georgia
            Yu Zhang; Oklahoma State University
            Peter Richtsmeier; Oklahoma State University

College students with dyslexia often have persistent phonological processing deficits, but the underlying nature of the deficits is not fully understood. This current study tested the performance of college students with and without dyslexia on a nonword repetition (NWR) task designed to systematically test phonological short-term and long-term memory effects using nonword length and consonant age of acquisition (CAoA) variables, respectively. There were no significant differences in NWR performance between the control and dyslexia groups when dyslexia status was based on self-report of a diagnosis. However, when group status was based on decoding ability regardless of referral or self-report, there was a group x CAoA x nonword length interaction. The magnitude of the CAoA effect substantially increased as nonword length increased for the poor decoding group, whereas the effect was similar across multisyllabic nonwords for the control group. Results suggest that weaker activations in phonological long-term memory are more prone to error as the short-term memory demands increase for students with dyslexia. There are also implications for considering compensated versus uncompensated dyslexia in our assessment and interpretation of student performance.


Modeling Late and Typical Vocabulary Acquisition: The Importance of Approximating Toddlers’ Linguistic Environment

            Jennifer Weber; University of Colorado Boulder
            Eliana Colunga; University of Colorado Boulder

Understanding child language development requires accurately representing children’s lexicons. However, most past work modeling children’s lexical semantic structure has utilized adult norms or corpora of adult language. The present work uses lexical networks created from Word2Vec embeddings trained on a newly-created toddler-directed language corpus. We compare predictions from a Word2Vec toddler network, a network created by training Word2Vec on typical adult input, and a model trained using both corpora. The toddler-only network outperformed the other two when predicting normative vocabularies of typically developing children from 16-30 months, indicating that a general toddler language corpus is a better tool for modeling early lexical development. Further results also showed that Word2Vec-derived networks perform better than networks created using other distributional methods. Here, we extend this approach to modeling individual late talker trajectories. Our results suggest that despite late talker heterogeneity and  small vocabularies, semantic networks and computational models can still capture patterns in vocabulary acquisition in order to predict vocabulary growth over time. We discuss how these and other methods such as machine learning can help individualize further research and intervention approaches.


Mean length of utterance and Index of productive syntax in toddlers: correlating the two measures

            Klára Matiasovitsová; Faculty of Arts, Charles University
            Petra Cechová; Faculty of Arts, Charles University
            Filip Smolík; Faculty of Arts, Charles University
            Jakub Sláma; Faculty of Arts, Charles University
            Jolana Kohoutková; Faculty of Arts, Charles University
            Kamila Homolková; Faculty of Arts, Charles University

The study examined the use of MLU and IPSyn in Czech including their validity against test-based measures of vocabulary and grammar comprehension. We developed a Czech version of IPSyn and we compared the scores with MLU in syllables, morphemes, and words in the same transcripts. We used a corpus of 110 children recorded at two time points: 2;6 and 4;11. The different MLU measures correlated closely (r’s > 0,97). We found strong correlations between MLU and IPSyn in both time points (0.88 and 0.77). In regression analyses, MLU and IPSyn in 2;6 years had a significant unique effect on the later scores of these measures (ß = 0.35 and 0.37, respectively). For IPSyn, the vocabulary test showed a unique predictive effect above the factors of other predictors (ß = 0.26). Our results confirm that MLU in words is an adequate measure. IPSyn is a valid measure since it predicts itself in time with a vocabulary measure as a unique predictor and it also correlates closely with MLU.

Faculty of Arts, Charles University, IGRA CU, CZ.02.2.69/0.0/0.0/19


Language Performance on the Preschool Language Scale-5 among Children Enrolled in Head Start Programs

            Alexandria Sanchez; University of New Mexico
            Cathy Qi; University of New Mexico

Language skills provide the foundation for cognitive, social, behavioral, and literacy development. Early identification of language delays during the preschool years is critical so that appropriate interventions are delivered to stimulate language development. However, accurate identification of language delays in young children from low-income families and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds is complicated by the uneven quality and quantity of language acquisition in the preschool years, and by the inherent limitations of standardized language instruments for use with this population. The purpose of the study was to examine the language performance of preschool children enrolled in Head Start programs. Trained research assistants administered the Preschool Language Scale-5 (PLS-5) individually to 279 children in Head Start centers. Results indicated that children performed significantly below the expected means for their ages on the PLS-5 Auditory Comprehension, Expressive Communication and Total Language scores. Girls scored significantly higher than boys. There was no significant difference between Auditory Comprehension and Expressive communication scores. Implications will be discussed.


Language Choice and Repairing Communication Breakdown by Bilingual Children with Different Language Abilities

            Madeline Hoffses; University of Massachusetts Amherst
            Ada López González; University of Massachusetts Amherst
            Megan Gross; University of Massachusetts Amherst

The current project examines how bilingual children with a variety of language abilities interact with monolingual conversation partners and address communication breakdowns associated with language mismatch. Our past work using a scripted confederate dialogue task found that bilingual children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) were more likely than their typically developing peers to respond in English when addressed in Spanish, even after accounting for Spanish proficiency. However, a key limitation was that they received no feedback that their partner did not understand. In the current project, children who responded in the opposite language received either subtle (“No sé” [I don’t know]) or explicit (“Sólo hablo español” [I only speak Spanish]) feedback and an opportunity to rephrase. Their response patterns (e.g., switching languages to facilitate understanding) are considered relative to diagnostic status (TD, DLD, autism), language proficiency, metalinguistic awareness, and theory of mind. Implications for intervention practices with bilingual children are discussed.

[UMass Amherst faculty start-up funds; Spaulding-Smith Fellowship]


Language Alignment in Bilingual Parent-Child Interactions

            Caitlyn Slawny; University of Wisconsin-Madison
            Emma Libersky; University of Wisconsin-Madison
            Margarita Kaushanskaya; University of Wisconsin-Madison

In conversation, bilingual children must choose what language to use. In the current study we asked: in spontaneous conversations, do bilingual children respond to bilingual adults in the same language, and do children with weaker language skills have more difficulty aligning their language choice? Forty-five Spanish-English bilingual parent-child dyads participated in a 10-minute video-recorded play-based activity. Children’s language abilities ranged from clinically low (Developmental Language Disorder, DLD) to typical. Conversational turns for parents and children were coded as English, Spanish, or code-switched (mixed use of English and Spanish). Children’s utterances were then coded for alignment as matching or mismatching the parent’s language. We examined the effects of parent language choice, and children’s language skills and language dominance on alignment. Overall, children showed good alignment with parent language choice, independent of language ability. However, English-dominant children were more likely to align with their parents. Together, these findings suggest that young bilingual children align to the language choice of their parents, but language dominance plays a strong role in language choice.

Funding: R01DC016015-04


Influences of autism spectrum disorder and sex in the formation of children’s preschool language networks

            Regina Fasano; University of Miami
            Laura Vitale; University of Miami
            Daniel Messinger; University of Miami
            Lynn Perry; University of Miami

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) causes deficits in communication and social interaction. Because ASD is more prevalent in boys than girls, questions remain about the differences in language and social interactions between girls and boys with ASD and their typically developing (TD) peers. This study compared the language and social interactions in preschool classroom language networks of girls and boys with ASD and TD peers. We tracked language and social interactions of 77 preschoolers in ASD-inclusive classrooms to know when and with whom children interacted, and how interaction differed between girls and boys with and without ASD. We looked at how group (ASD/TD) and sex affected children’s centrality to language networks and how assessed language abilities related to centrality (cotalk with peers). Results suggested ASD-related group differences in social communication that varied by sex. Additionally, girls’ and boys’ centrality may be differentially associated with ASD status and language abilities. Objective research in the real-world context of classrooms may lead to important insights of differences between girls and boys with ASD that are relevant for diagnosis and intervention.

Funding: IES/The Spencer Foundation


Influence of Language Sampling Context on Sentence Diversity in AAE-Speaking Preschoolers

            Maura Moyle; Marquette University
            John Heilmann; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
            Denise Finneran; University of Oklahoma
            Abigail Dobbins; Marquette University

Accurately assessing children who speak African American English (AAE) can be challenging for speech-language pathologists. A measure of sentence diversity based on narrative language samples collected from AAE-speaking preschoolers has shown promise as a valid, dialect-neutral index of expressive language skills. The goal of this study was to examine the influence of language sampling context on sentence diversity. Specifically, we examined sentence diversity within narrative, conversational, and play-based language samples collected from low-income AAE-speaking preschoolers. The current study found that narrative language samples were associated with higher levels of sentence diversity (i.e., unique subject-verb combinations) than conversational or play-based language samples. The findings suggest that sentence diversity is significantly influenced by language sampling context; therefore, its validity as a language measure may depend on the complexity of language elicited from the child. Clinical implications, limitations of the current study and future research will be discussed. This research was supported by the US Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Early Reading First Program [Grant S359B08008], the United Way of Greater Milwaukee, and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.


How we Measure Change Matters: Considering Proximity and Boundness of Outcomes when Evaluating the Effectiveness of Caregiver-Implemented Communication Interventions

            Marianne Elmquist; University of Wisconsin - Madison
            Andrea Ford; University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
            Kirstin Kuchler; University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
            Betul Cakir-Dilek; University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
            Sarah Jane Brown; University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
            Amy Riegelman; University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
            Scott Marsalis; University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
            Lizbeth Finestack; University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

Caregiver-implemented communication (CIC) interventions are commonly used to support and enhance children's language learning environments. They have strong empirical support as an effective approach to improve child language outcomes. However, how we measure change is rarely considered when considering intervention effectiveness. The end goal of communication interventions is to have cascading effects on outcomes that are distal and generalizable from the intervention context, yet outcomes used to evaluate intervention effectiveness tend to be proximal and context-bound to the intervention setting. We conducted a review of the literature on CIC interventions for children with language-impairments under the age of 48-months and evaluated intervention effectiveness considering the proximity and boundness of outcomes. Sixty studies met inclusion criteria, and we will use logistic regression with clustered bootstrapping to determine the probability of observing a treatment effect based on the proximity and boundness of caregiver and child communication outcomes. We will discuss results in terms of improving future intervention research and implications for current practice.

Funding Source: T32 DC005359, P50HD105353


Analyzing the Expressive Syntax Abilities of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children for Spoken English Using the Index of Productive Syntax

            Nicola Santangelo; University of Kansas
            Jena McDaniel; University of Kansas
            Angie Walker; Kansas School for the Deaf

 Both expressive and receptive syntax have been identified as areas of difficulty for deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children, but limited evidence is available for the details of those abilities. This project focused on the English expressive syntax abilities of DHH children measured using the Index of Productive Syntax (IPSyn). We examined the percentage of DHH children that scored within or above normal limits for expressive syntax, the relation between two expressive syntax measures (IPSyn and mean length of utterance in morphemes [MLU]), and the relative strengths and weaknesses for expressive syntax. Language samples from 33 DHH children (mean = 49 months) were coded using the IPSyn and for MLU. Most participants scored below the comparison data on the IPSyn. These results indicate that expressive syntax may be an area of difficulty for DHH children. IPSyn scores correlated with MLU for children at earlier and later stages of syntactic development. Participants scored significantly higher on noun phrases and verb phrases than questions/negations and sentence structures. Support for this project was provided by a University of Kansas Undergraduate Research Award.


Efficacy of International Tele-Practice Parent-Training for High Functioning Chinese Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

            Yao Chen; The University of Texas at Austin
            Ying Hao; University of Mississippi
            Li Zheng; Nanjing Normal University

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is highly prevalent, with 1 in 44 children (Maenner et al., 2021). While there is a high demand for speech-language services, resources are scarce for most Chinese families of children with ASD (e.g. Huang et al., 2013). This calls for more services for these families. Tele-practice has been emerging as an effective approach to deliver services to families of children with ASD, which helps bridge the gaps of the shortage of clinicians and geographical distance (Pickard et al., 2016). When tele-practice is used in a different culture, its efficacy needs validation. In this study, we conducted a pilot study on the efficacy of an international tele-practice parent training program with a multiple-baseline single-subject design among four Chinese families of children with ASD who were diagnosed as high functioning. Three of the four caregivers demonstrated steady progress in strategy implementation during the intervention period and maintained the progress during follow-up. Two of the four children demonstrated progress in mean length of utterance and the other two children demonstrated progress in their number of different words.


Effects of Animated Versus Static Stories on Narrative Retell Quality: A Twin Perspective

            Kolbee Tibbets; Idaho State University
            Abigail Willis; Idaho State University
            Diane Ogiela; Idaho State University

Rationale: Narrative language samples are an important part of language assessment and intervention for children with language disorders. It is unclear whether animated elicitation stimuli, in the absence of a linguistic model, can improve the quality of narrative microstructure and macrostructure in school-age children.

Method: Two typically developing 10-year-old identical twin girls viewed four short wordless stories in animated and static conditions that were counter-balanced across the participants and stories, allowing for a well-controlled case study comparison. They re-told the stories, which were recorded, transcribed, coded, and scored for macrostructure and microstructure elements. The data were compared within and across participants.

Results and Conclusions: Overall, the participants produced comparable narratives in both conditions. However, notable differences included more mental verbs and more elaboration of noun phrases in the narratives elicited by animated stimuli. This suggests that animation may support inferencing about characters thoughts and support the production of greater detail. Further study of the effect of animation, with and without linguistic models, on the quality of narrative retell would be beneficial.

Funding: Idaho State University Graduate Student Summer Research Grant.


Investigating the Roles of Anxiety and Communication Partner in Language Use in Fragile X Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder

            Emily Lorang; University of Wisconsin - Madison, Waisman Center
            Audra Sterling; University of Wisconsin - Madison, Waisman Center

Boys with fragile X syndrome (FXS) and many autistic boys demonstrate deficits in grammar and vocabulary skills in addition to social communication deficits. Both autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and FXS are also associated with elevated anxiety symptoms. Anxiety symptoms may impact communication skills, particularly during social interactions with unfamiliar communication partners. In this study, we examined whether expressive language differed between interactions with familiar vs. unfamiliar communication partners, and whether anxiety and/or ASD symptoms were associated with expressive language during these interactions. Boys with FXS and autistic boys ages nine to 18 years participated in two conversational language samples including one with a familiar conversation partner (i.e., their mother) and one with an unfamiliar partner (i.e., a study examiner). We also measured child anxiety and ASD symptoms. Data collection is ongoing. Preliminary findings suggest a significant association between anxiety and expressive language during conversations with unfamiliar but not familiar communication partners in boys with FXS. Speech-language pathologists may need to consider underlying anxiety and communication partner when assessing expressive language.

Funding: K23DC016639 (Sterling), F31DC018716 (Lorang), CAPCSD (Lorang), and P50HD105353 (Chang).


Does Visual Aid Composition Influence Performance on a Narrative Production Task?

            Emily Matula; New York University
            Christina Reuterskiöld; Linköping University

Visual aids are often used to support language production in individuals with communication disorders (e.g., Finestack, 2012), although evidence is inconsistent (e.g., Boudreau, 2008). How individuals utilize visual information during narrative production tasks, and whether it supports language production in the way it was intended, is not yet well known. In this study, adults with and without autism spectrum disorder (ASD) viewed picture scenes that varied in terms of background detail (present, absent) and described them out loud while their gaze behavior was recorded, following Norbury (2014). Background detail in picture scenes increased the frequency of background references and decreased proportion of looks to the main event without a change in main event identification accuracy for all participants. It appears that the amount of visual detail in a picture scene influences narrative content. Results can inform assessment procedures and evaluation methods. This research was supported by a Doctoral Research and Travel Grant from New York University Steinhardt School of Education, Culture, and Human Development.


Does Movement Capture the Attention of Preschool Children with Developmental Language Disorder During Word Learning?

            Yara Aljahlan; Alfaisal University
            Tammie Spaulding; University of Connecticut

Given the attentional shifting weaknesses in children with developmental language disorder (DLD), it is important to understand what they naturally attend to when engaged in language acquisition. We investigated what visual features of novel objects capture the attention of preschool children with DLD during an early process of word learning, fast mapping. The results suggest that, unlike their typical language peers, the DLD group exhibited an attentional tendency towards movement when initially exposed to novel word-novel referent pairings. If movement increases the saliency of the referent for children with DLD, this can potentially be used therapeutically to draw their attention to relevant environmental referents to enable successful word-referent pairings. This work was funded by the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission to the United States.


Disciplinary Crossroads in Identifying Developmental Language Disorder in Canada

            Lisa Archibald; Western University
            Cassandra Kuyvenhoven; Western University

The Disciplinary Crossroads study sought to better understand the views, perspectives, and current practices of psychologists and speech-language pathologists on childhood language disorders, specifically focusing on the identification of developmental language disorder (DLD). In Canada, speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and psychologists identify children with language disorders but employ different criteria and terms. Although shaped by regional differences, the lack of consistency and intersection of practice was found to create tensions between the groups. Across Canada, SLPs and psychologists recognized how their practice overlapped, and acknowledged the need to collaborate to better identify and serve children with language disorders. Our preliminary analyses show how regional policies and practices have affected this collaboration, with a view to making recommendations on how to achieve positive practice change. The study employed a qualitative, grounded theory framework to reveal the tensions between SLPs and psychologists across Canadian provinces. A total of 13 focus groups in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Québec were conducted in both French (2) and English (11). The study was funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Connections grant.


Dialect Effects on Spoken Language Comprehension in Children who speak African American English

            Arynn Byrd; University of Maryland, College Park
            Yi Ting Huang; University of Maryland, College Park
            Jan Edwards; University of Maryland, College Park

Children who speak African American English (AAE) are less likely than similar-age peers who speak Mainstream American English (MAE) to use inflectional morphology (e.g., verbal -s) when interpreting MAE sentences. However, it remains unclear whether these differences would be observed if the inflectional marker was a more salient whole syllable. This study investigates group differences in how AAE- and MAE-speaking children use "was" and "were", a more perceptually salient feature, to interpret sentences in MAE. Sixty participants, ages 7:0-9:12, who were identified as MAE or AAE speakers, heard sentences in MAE that had an unambiguous (e.g., Jeremiah) or ambiguous (Carolyn May) subject. Ambiguous sentences could only be disambiguated by attending to the verb (was vs. were), which signifies a plurality contrast in MAE only. AAE-speaking children were less likely than MAE speakers to use the MAE contrast between "was"/"were" when interpreting ambiguous MAE sentences. These results suggest that, regardless of perceptual saliency, contrastive morphological features between AAE and MAE impact how children who speak AAE process sentences in MAE. [Supported by NSF grant #1449815 awarded to Colin Philips.]


Cross-Racial/Ethnic Differences in the Gesture Rates of Parents of Autistic Children

            Adrienne De Froy; The University of Texas at Dallas
            Pamela Rosenthal Rollins; The University of Texas at Dallas

As child development researchers, it is important to understand how parents and children from different racial/ethnic backgrounds interact with—and communicate with—each other. Parent gestures produced during parent-child interactions are related to concurrent and later child outcomes and are thus of particular interest. However, little research has been conducted with families from non-White backgrounds, particularly in the autism community. This study analyzes the gesture production of parents of young autistic children produced during naturalistic interactions. Participants were 139 parents of a young autistic child who participated in one of two larger randomized control trials analyzing an early autism intervention. Parent gestures were transcribed from 10-minute video recorded naturalistic parent-child interactions. Results indicated South Asian parents gestured significantly more than Black/African American and White (but not Hispanic) parents. Our findings underscore the importance of conducting autism research with non-White participants and analyzing findings within a culturally aware framework. This work was supported by a grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Autism Grants Program (Dr. Pamela Rosenthal Rollins, PI).


Cross-Lagged Relations Between Bilingual Children’s Vocabulary, Semantics, and Morphosyntax Across Three Age Groups

            Jissel Anaya; University of Virginia
            Nahar Albudoor; Gallaudet University
            Joseph Hin Yan Lam; University of California, Irvine
            Elizabeth Peña; University of California, Irvine
            Lisa Bedore; Temple University

Bilingual children’s performance in one linguistic domain is generally positively linked to their performance in other linguistic domains, but less is known about the associations between domains over time. This study sought to determine the directional influences between Spanish-English bilingual children’s performance on three linguistic domains—vocabulary, semantics, and morphosyntax—over two annual time points. Participants were 264 Spanish-English bilingual children with typical language development. There were three age groups, K-1st graders, 2nd-3rd graders, and 4th-5th graders. Cross-lagged panel analyses were used to measure the strength and direction of the associations between domains across the two time points. Results demonstrated both within- and across-domain relations over time, but there were variations in the presence and magnitude of effects between languages and age groups. These findings provide evidence for how intra- and cross-domain linguistic bootstrapping may occur among bilingual children at different age levels. This research was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders grant R01 DC010366.


Comparing the Effect of High vs. Low Contextual Support on Word Learning in Children with DLD

            Suzanne Adlof; University of South Carolina
            Dawna Duff; University of Pittsburgh
            Taylor Bryant; University of South Carolina
            Anna Ehrhorn; University of South Carolina
            Alexis Mitchell; University of South Carolina
            Maalavika Ragunathan; University of Pittsburgh

Rationale: Research on word learning in children with developmental language disorder (DLD) has identified greater difficulties with encoding of new words than retention, but most of these studies involve word learning in situations with low levels of contextual support.  This study investigates how contextual information affects word learning and retention in school-aged children with DLD.

Method: Second-grade students with DLD were taught novel words in experimental word learning tasks in two instructional conditions: low-context (rote) and high-context (within a cartoon narrative). Both conditions provided explicit instruction of word forms and definitions, and the same number of repeated exposures and spaced practice opportunities. We assessed word learning with recall and recognition tasks following instruction (encoding) and one week later (retention).

Results: Within-subject analyses will examine word learning differences between conditions (low vs. high context), testing phases (encoding, retention), and their interaction.

Conclusion: Previously, research has focused on low-context instruction in DLD. We will contrast low- vs. high-context instruction and relate findings to word learning theories and implications for vocabulary instruction for children with DLD.

This study is part of Project WORD, funded by the NIH - NIDCD, #5R01DC017156-03.


Comparing Measures from Computer-Administered and Examiner-Administered Narrative Retells in Spanish: A Pilot Study

            John Heilmann; UW-Milwaukee
            Denise Finneran; University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
            Maura Moyle; Marquette University

Narrative language sample analysis (LSA) is a recommended best practice for the assessment of monolingual and bilingual children. With business-as-usual narrative LSA, examiners are actively involved in all aspects of the elicitation. Software advancements have shown multiple benefits of computer-administered language assessments, some of which may be beneficial for narrative assessments, particularly for bilingual children. Our goal was to test the feasibility of computer-administered narrative retells in bilingual children. Ten English-Spanish bilingual children, kindergarten to fourth grade, completed narrative retells in two conditions: examiner-administered and computer-administered. Strong correlations were observed for four of five narrative measures. A series of repeated measures Analysis of Variance equations revealed no significant differences across the two conditions. Elicitation method accounted for less than six percent of the variance in each of the measures. This study motivates further research to test the clinical effectiveness of computer-elicited assessments within clinical practice.

 Project funded by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


Acoustic Differences in the Babble of Low Risk Infants and Infants with Neurogenetic Disorders

            Erica Hill; Purdue University
            Lily Berlstein; Purdue University
            Lisa Hamrick; Purdue University
            Brigette L. Kelleher; Purdue University
            Amanda Seidl; Purdue University

The development of canonical babble has long been of interest to researchers because the time at which infants attain canonical babbling (producing 15% consonant-vowel syllables) has been associated with later language outcomes. Specifically, the late onset of the canonical babbling stage has been found to be an early indicator of a later diagnosis of a speech or language disorder. However, canonical babble may be a less sensitive measure for children with neurogenetic disorders who often produce language at the floor of standardized measures and may consistently produce low canonical babbling ratios across early development. It is unclear if these associations will apply in children who have language delays secondary to genetic disorders and other known causes of atypical development.  Thus, it is helpful to examine potentially more sensitive measures such as the acoustics of early vocalizations for these children. Here, we examine the acoustics of early canonical and non-canonical vocalizations of children with and without a variety of neurogenetic disorders to explore whether acoustic differences between canonical and non-canonical syllables in early production are equally present in both groups.


A Longitudinal Study of Code-Switching in English-Instructed Spanish-English Bilingual Children

            Molly Gasior; Missouri State University
            Lindsey Hiebert; Missouri State University
            Raúl Rojas; The University of Texas at Dallas

RATIONALE: Bilingual individuals are a growing population in the U.S., and these individuals may engage in code-switching. The current literature has inconsistencies surrounding code-switching its change over time, and its potential relationship to language attrition. This study’s purpose is to track change in code-switching in English and Spanish narrative retell language samples in English-instructed bilingual children across 6 semesters.

METHOD: Thirty-seven Spanish-English bilingual preschoolers provided narrative samples. Code-switching (words in the non-target language) was marked to analyze percentage of code-switched words over time.

RESULTS: Paired sample t-tests and effect sizes estimated in each language revealed non-significant changes and small effect sizes. Code-switching in English decreased after the first year and code-switching in Spanish varied across waves.

CONCLUSIONS: Although bilingual children did not experience a significant change in code-switching within each language, the percentage of code-switching was vastly different between languages. The systematic input of English in school may have influenced a shift from more Spanish use to more English.

Funding sources: Grant GA 2013-016 – Jerry M. Lewis, M.D. Mental Health Research Foundation; BBS Faculty Research Initiative Grant; Grant 13180 – Anonymous Donor


A Helping Hand: Gesture Acts as a Compensatory Mechanism During Narrative Retell in Former Late Talkers

            Murielle Standley; Northwestern University
            Miriam Novack; Northwestern University
            Philip Curtis; Northwestern University
            Magda Slowakiewicz; Northwestern University
            Abigail Holthaus; Northwestern University
            Adriana Weisleder; Northwestern University

Narrative skills are an important component of language development. Additionally, the type of gestures children use during storytelling have been linked to the structure of their narratives. Specifically, the use of character-viewpoint gestures (in which the gesturer takes on a first-person view of the character with their hands/body) predicts better-structured narratives in typically developing children, but this has not been examined in children who experienced language delays (“Late Talkers”). The current study investigates gesture use, gesture type, and gesture viewpoint during a wordless cartoon narrative retell task in former Late Talkers (LTs) and Typical Talkers (TTs) at age 4. Participants watched silent cartoon videos during a study conducted on Zoom and were asked to retell the story. We found that former LTs gestured more than TTs. Additionally, former LTs differed in the use of gesture type from their TT peers, and we found no group difference for viewpoint gesture uses. Findings suggest that gesture continues to serve as a compensatory mechanism in language production for former LTs but may also reflect differences in narrative construction.

Funding Source: Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders, Northwestern University


A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Mother-Child Interactions during Joint Book Reading

            Yingshan Huang; University of South Alabama
            Brenda Beverly; University of South Alabama
            Victoria Henbest; University of South Alabama

This investigation was a cross-cultural comparison in quantity and quality of maternal interactive behaviors during joint book reading (JBR). Ten Chinese mothers from Fuzhou City, China and 10 U.S. mothers video recorded themselves reading two storybooks, one provided by investigators and one home book, to their typically developing four-year olds. Videotapes were transcribed in the respective languages and analyzed using investigator-developed codes. Results revealed Chinese mothers had a higher percentage of extra-textual talk (talk in addition to the book text) than American mothers. Attention to print (i.e., English letters or Chinese characters) was uncommon among mothers in both groups. Instead, mothers primarily described story content. Only Chinese mothers elaborated on the story moral. Chinese mothers had more frequent use of question prompts, explanations, directives, and elaborations compared to American mothers. These strategies fit a “question-give-answer” pattern. Whether this directive style is optimally supportive for language development of Chinese preschoolers needs future investigation. Generalization is limited by sample size and within culture variation; however, understanding JBR as a culturally valid context can support emerging speech-language services in mainland China.