Poster Sessions

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Poster Session #1 - Friday, May 31 at 8:30 AM


Executive Function Skills and Input Variability in Children’s Cross-Situational Word Learning

Kimberly Crespo; Boston University
Malvika Khandelwal; Boston University
Gabriela Rushi; Boston University

In the present study, we examined the role of executive function (EF) skills in cross-situational word-learning (CSWL) performance under low and high input variability conditions. Forty-four English-monolingual children ages 5 – 9  completed two CSWL tasks and the Dimensional Change Card Sort task (DCCS). Performance on the DCCS was used to index shifting, inhibition, and monitoring skills. Results revealed that older children demonstrated higher likelihoods of learning novel words than younger children. Children were also more more likely to learn novel words in the Low Variability Condition than the High Variability Condition. Model results also revealed that children with robust monitoring skills were more adept at learning novel words than children with weaker monitoring skills. Our findings align with previous work demonstrating age effects and variability effects in children’s CSWL. The results also indicate that EF may be implicated in resolving referential ambiguity, even when input variability is low. Taken together, our results are in line with emerging evidence that explicit mechanisms may complement implicit statistical learning processes in CSWL.

This research was supported by startup funds awarded to Kimberly Crespo.


Complex Syntax, Morphosyntax, and Productivity in Expository Discourse, Narrative Retell, and Conversational Language Sample Contexts in Preschool Age Children who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Tiana Cowan; Boys Town National Research Hospital
Emily Lund; Texas Christian University
Krystal Werfel; Boys Town National Research Hospital

Language sample analysis is regarded as an informative clinical tool since it assesses language skills in ecologically valid contexts. However, there is a lack of clinical guidance for speech-language pathologists on how the elicitation context impacts language productions for children who are deaf and hard of hearing (DHH). The purpose of this project is to examine how elicitation context impacts complex syntax, morphosyntax, and productivity in preschool age children who are DHH compared to peers. Secondary data from 69 4-year-old children who are DHH and their age-matched and language-matched peers are analyzed to determine the effects of elicitation context and group on complex syntax attempts (CSa), mean length utterance in morphemes (MLUm), and number of utterances. Results show that, after accounting for the proportion of utterances per elicitation context, all groups produce utterances with greater MLUm values and make a higher proportion of CSa in expository discourse and narrative retell contexts compared to conversational ones. Implications for clinical assessment planning are discussed.

Funding was provided by the NIH-NIDCD (T32-DC000013 to Chatterjee; R01DC017173 to Werfel and Lund; R03DC014535 to Werfel).


Spanish-English bilingual preschoolers’ code-mixed responses based on ability, frequency, and accuracy

Kai Greene; CSU Dominguez Hills
Casey Taliancich-Klinger; Our Lady of the Lake University

Code-mixing allows for bilinguals to alternate from one language to another at the word level. Based on a larger study that examined Spanish-English bilingual language development in school-age populations, over 600 bilingual preschoolers (M = 65.45 months) completed an oral language screening battery consisting of morphological and semantic test items in both languages. Based on overall performance, participants were divided into at-risk or low-risk ability groups. On the semantic screeners, 265 participants code-mixed on at least one test item in English or in Spanish. This study’s initial analyses examined participants’ code-mixing responses based on ability (at-risk or low-risk), code mix (CM) frequency (high code-mixer or low code-mixer), and CM accuracy (correct or incorrect responses). Findings indicate that Spanish or English dominance was not a significant predictor of code-mixing accuracy. Parallel results were similar in that participants in the low-risk category tended to code-mix with more accuracy when compared to the high-risk group. Findings demonstrate that code-mixing requires a specific degree of linguistic competence in both languages and serves as a beneficial educational lexical strategy for preschoolers.


In Search of an NWR task for Child Speakers of AAE

Janet L. McDonald; LSU
Christy Wynn Moland; LSU
Janna B. Oetting; LSU

Rationale: The nonword repetition (NWR) task of Dollaghan and Campbell (1998) has been shown to be related to children’s nonmainstream form (NMF) densities.  In search of a better task, we compared the Dollaghan and Campbell task to two others to see if they could distinguish DLD and TD children without showing effects for the children’s NMF densities.

Methods: 38 AAE-speaking children (DLD = 16; TD = 22) in kindergarten or 1st grade were given three established NWR tasks (Chiat & Polišenská. 2016; Dollaghan & Campbell, 1998; Shriberg et al., 2009).  NMF density was measured by the DELV-ST (Seymour et al., 2018).

Results: NWR performance was correlated to NMF density for the Dollagan and Campbell and the Chiat tasks but not for the Shriberg task. DLD and TD groups differed on all three tasks for the kindergartners, and for the Dollaghan and Campbell for first graders.

Conclusions: None of the NWR tasks was able to distinguish the DLD and TD groups at both grades while also being unrelated to the children’s NMF densities.

Funding: NIDCD grant RDC020434A


Visual Artificial Grammar Learning in Children with Developmental Language Disorder

Ziyi Cao; MGH Institute of Health Professions
Lauren Baron; MGH Institute of Health Professions
Kelsey Black; MGH Institute of Health Professions
Asiya Gul; MGH Institute of Health Professions
Annika Schafer; MGH Institute of Health Professions
Yael Arbel; MGH Institute of Health Professions

Children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) often demonstrate impairments in grammar, which is typically acquired via implicit learning. The purpose of this study was to evaluate implicit grammar learning in school-age children (8:0 – 12:0) with and without DLD by employing a visual Artificial Grammar Learning (AGL) task. Participants were exposed to an amount of repeated patterns governed by an underlying finite structure during the learning phase. The subsequent testing phase required them to judge whether new patterns were grammatical or not. Behavioral measures revealed overall poorer performance among children with DLD compared to their typically developing (TD) peers, with neither group showing significant reliance on surface features, or the similarity to training exemplars. Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) time-locked to the completion point of each sequence were examined. A late-parietal P600 component was observed in both groups. DLD group elicited a comparatively later onset but a larger P600 activity.

This work was funded by NIDCD R01DC018295.


Error-Monitoring in Children with Developmental Language Disorder

Annika L. Schafer; MGH Institute of Health Professions
Lauren Baron; MGH Institute of Health Professions
Asiya Gul; MGH Institute of Health Professions
Ziyi Cao; MGH Institute of Health Professions
Yael Arbel; MGH Institute of Health Professions

This research focuses on error-monitoring in children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), a neurodevelopmental condition affecting approximately 7% of children. While various aspects of language learning in DLD have been explored, error-monitoring remains understudied. Drawing parallels from research on dyslexia and ADHD, which revealed reduced neural responses to errors, this study aims to characterize the error-monitoring system in DLD using behavioral and electrophysiological indicators.

Age-matched groups of children with and without DLD completed a Flanker task while their electrical brain activity was measured using EEG. Initial analyses revealed significant performance differences, including accuracy and reaction time variations between cohorts. Planned analyses will delve into behavioral and neurophysiological error-monitoring indicators and the relationship between them. This research has implications for developing more effective interventions that consider the unique error-monitoring profile in children with DLD.

This work was funded by NIDCD R01DC018295 awarded to Yael Arbel and NIDCD F32DC020095 awarded to Lauren Baron.


Evaluating the Convergent Validity and Relative Difficulty of a New Measure of Social Communication with an Established Measure of Social Problem Solving

Emily Phelps; Miami University
Gerard Poll; Miami University
William Boone; Miami University
Sophie Seculov; Miami University
Brooke Harmon; Miami University
Samrawit Getachew; Miami University
Janis Petru; Elmhurst University

This study evaluated the convergent validity of a new measure of adolescent social communication, the Transition Pragmatics Interview (TPI). An important component of social communication in adolescence is social problem solving. Examinee ability measured by the TPI was compared to ability measured by an established measure of social problem solving, the Interpersonal Negotiation Strategy Interview (INS; Selman et al., 1986). There were 31 participants of varied ability in the study, age 14-21. Rasch analysis was used to derive examinee and item difficulty measures. To meet the assumption of unidimensionality for Rasch analysis, INS responses related to adult interactions and peer interactions were separated. TPI examinee measures were moderately correlated with INS examinee measures for both peer (r = .52) and adult scales (r = .57). INS items were more difficult than TPI items. The data support the validity of the TPI as a measure of an overlapping but not identical construct as the INS. Few participants provided the most advanced social problem solving approaches for the INS, making it more difficult for examinees to attain the highest score on INS items.

Supported by the NIDCD, R15DC020521


Can Retrieval Practice Facilitate Verb Learning at the Sentence Level? A Study of Children with Developmental Language Disorder and Their Same-Age Peers

Laurence Leonard; Purdue University
Patricia Deevy; Purdue University
Jeffrey Karpicke; Purdue University
Sharon Christ; Purdue University
Justin Kueser; Boys Town National Research Hospital
Kaitlyn Fischer; Purdue University

Children with developmental language disorder have special difficulties learning and using verbs. In this study we determined whether these children’s verb learning could be facilitated through spaced retrieval practice. Four- and five-year-old children with DLD and their same-age peers learned novel verbs in transitive sentence contexts. Half of the words were assigned to a repeated study condition and half to a spaced retrieval condition. The novel verbs in the two conditions were matched on the number of exposures during study trials and differed only on whether retrieval opportunities were provided. Learning occurred over two sessions and recall was tested immediately after the second session and one week later. The children recalled more novel words in the spaced retrieval condition than in the repeated study condition. In addition, for those novel verbs that were successfully recalled, the children were able to use the verbs in sentences with agents and patients that had not been included during the learning period.  These findings suggest that spaced retrieval practice might be incorporated successfully into broader language intervention activities.

Funding Source: R01 DC014708


The Relationship Between Joint Engagement and Social Complexity of Language in Young Autistic Children

Erin Kosloski; The University of Texas at Dallas
Pamela Rollins; The University of Texas at Dallas

Expressive language constitutes an important outcome for autistic children. However, commonly used measures rarely capture to what degree children’s language is socially motivated. In this study, 47 young autistic children and their parents participated in naturalistic play sessions. Videos were coded for engagement states, and child language was transcribed and coded for high (e.g., commenting) or low (e.g., requesting) social motivation. Preliminary analysis with 22 participants revealed that children talked most during Object Engagement and their mean length of utterance was positively correlated (approaching significance) with time spent in Lower Coordinated Joint Engagement. We hypothesize that: (a) additional significant relationships will emerge upon analyzing the full sample; and (b) time spent in social engagement states will predict the proportion of child utterances which are highly socially motivated. Such findings could illuminate which engagement states provide the best opportunity for autistic children to communicate socially and help shape optimal interventions.

This research was supported by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s (THECB) Autism Grants Program?(Grants 20476, 27509). Opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the THECB.?


Verbs are stronger predictors than nouns in accounting for grammatical outcomes in Mandarin-speaking children with cochlear implants

Ling-Yu Guo; University at Buffalo
Lei Xu; Shandong ENT Hospital, China
Jianfen Luo; Shandong ENT Hospital, China
Min Wang; Shandong ENT Hospital, China
Jinming Li; Shandong ENT Hospital, China
Linda Spencer; Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions
Huei-Mei Liu; National Taiwan Normal University

Developing grammatical skills is challenging for children with CIs. Hadley (2020) developed a sentence-focused framework to promote grammatical learning that targeted early verb lexicon as a critical step for later grammatical development. One prediction was that verbs would be a stronger predictor than nouns in accounting for subsequent grammatical outcomes. Here, we tested this prediction in Mandarin-speaking children with CIs by examining how well noun/verb sizes and diversity accounted for later grammatical complexity in these children.

Participants were 34 Mandarin-speaking children with CIs. At 12 months after CI activation, noun and verb sizes were computed from a parent checklist. Noun and verb diversity were computed from language samples. At 24 months after CI activation, grammatical complexity scores were computed from another parent checklist.

Verb size at 12 months after CI activation was a stronger predictor than noun size in accounting for grammatical complexity at 24 months after CI activation. Verb diversity was also a stronger predictor than noun diversity in accounting for grammatical complexity. Findings suggested the sentence-focused framework can be applied to Mandarin-speaking children with CIs.

Funding Source: Faculty Grants for Global and International Research, University at Buffalo


Feasibility of an Implicit Derivational Morpheme Recasting Intervention for Young Children with Impaired Language

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

Research regarding grammatical morpheme use has utilized both explicit and implicit learning approaches, while interventions targeting derivational morphology have yet to explore implicit learning. Unlike grammatical morphemes, derivational morphemes can change a word’s function (e.g. noun to verb) and meaning (e.g. subscribe vs. unsubscribe). These derivational morphemes are important to learning academic vocabulary, reading, and spelling.  This study examined the feasibility of adapting an implicit treatment approach, Enhanced Conversational Recasting, to promote derivational morpheme use in young children with impaired language. This study utilized a replicated single-subject multiple baseline design with five children between the ages of 5 years 4 months and 6 years 11 months. All participants responded to the intervention, producing their target derivational morpheme both during treatment and in generalization probes. Notably, 4 out of 5 children learned more than one derivational morpheme during the five-week treatment study. This study demonstrates that implicit methods may be used to teach derivational morphology at young ages.

Funding – R01DC015642


Lived experiences of children who were late to talk and their families

Alyssa Sachs; University of Arizona
Heidi Mettler; University of Arizona
Mary Alt; University of Arizona

The goals of this project were to learn more about the lived experiences of children who were late to talk and their families, as well as to better understand the functional and social effects of having a late-talker in the family and the later outcomes of being a previously identified late talker.

To date, we have individually interviewed 7 children ages 4 to 8 years who were identified as late talkers when they were younger. For the interview procedures, we used questions and procedures adapted from McCormack et al.’s (2022) drawing talking protocol and the SPAA-C (McLeod, 2004). We conducted a focus group to co-develop questions for our individual interviews with adult family members. We plan to conduct 12 adult interviews in upcoming months. Once interviews are completed, we will use thematic analysis to identify recurring themes within and across the child and adult interviews.

Although our analyses are not complete, our results will be one of the first systematic examinations of the lived experiences of children who were late to talk and their families.

This project is funded by an NIH TALK initiative supplement 3R01DC015642-06A1S1.


Participatory Help-Giving Practices: Implementation Science on Family-Centered AAC Intervention

John Kim; University of California, Berkeley

This pilot study analyzed the perspectives of graduate student clinicians and caregivers on the outcomes of “participatory help-giving practices” in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) intervention sessions. This specific AAC intervention model situates both family members and clinicians to co-construct AAC assessment, treatment, and progress monitoring in an iterative process. This qualitative study aimed to analyze whether family members can support AAC intervention in the home via the participatory help-giving intervention model (Dunst & Trivette, 2009). Both graduate student clinicians and families are interviewed after 12 weeks of on-campus AAC clinic sessions. Reoccurring themes and elements are established and stratified via thematic analysis. Data are also validated via triangulation of literature review reflection of participatory help-giving practices, clinical artifacts (e.g., therapy plan and SOAP notes, progress reports), and individual interviews of graduate student clinicians and families. Our anticipated outcome is to observe the initial results of the participatory help-giving intervention model concerning (a) the value of the family in AAC intervention and (b) building capacity for family members to support  AAC independently.


Language Change in Spanish-English Bilingual Children across Different Education Programs

Joseph Hin Yan Lam; University of California Irvine
Priscilla C.S. Fung; University of California Irvine
Lisa Bedore; Temple University
Elizabeth Peña; University of California Irvine
Ronald Gillam; Utah State University

The current study examined the relationship between bilingual programs and oral language performance in Spanish-English children longitudinally from kindergarten to first grade. Examining changes in raw scores can help understand the performance difference of the children, while standard scores can reflect the degree of change compared to the normed sample. 165 Spanish-English bilingual children were assessed using a standardized bilingual language assessment in both kindergarten and Grade 1. Participants were from three different policy bilingual programs, including late exit bilingual education (n = 52), early exit bilingual education (n = 73), and English-only education with bilingual support (n = 40). No significant difference in change in standard scores on Spanish semantics, English semantics, and morphosyntax. A significant difference was found in the change in standard score on Spanish morphosyntax between language programs, F(2, 157) = 3.75, p = .03. Post-hoc analysis showed children from late-exit bilingual programs had significantly higher changes in standard scores in Spanish morphosyntax to English-only program with bilingual support. The current study provides evidence to support bilingual education programs in early childhood.

Funding: R01DC007439 (Peña)


Writing Self-efficacy in Secondary Students of Various Levels of Language Proficiencies

Jiali Wang; University of California, Irvine
Young-Suk Kim; University of California, Irvine

This study addresses a critical gap in investigating writing self-efficacy in secondary students across different English proficiency levels. The study also aims to explore the relation between writing self-efficacy and various dimensions of writing quality argumentative writing in history. The study includes 360 students from 6th to 11th grade. For data analysis, we ran MANCOVA models on all writing self-efficacy measures by English Learner (EL) status. Post-hoc analysis was conducted. To understand the relations between writing self-efficacy and writing quality, Structural Equation Models were fitted. Results indicated that ELs had lower writing self-efficacy in revision. In addition, writing self-efficacy is significantly related to evidence use, language use, and historical thinking dimensions of writing quality, not the idea/ structure dimension. The study highlights the differential writing self-efficacy of students with different levels of English proficiency. Furthermore, students’ writing self-efficacy is related to their abilities to use language and disciplinary-specific writing skills rather than ideas and the overall structure of their writing. The study has implications in writing instruction for various learners and assessment of writing self-efficacy.

Funding: R305C190007 (Carol B. Olson)


Slight differences with similar language profiles in individuals with Smith-Magenis Syndrome (SMS) due to a genetic deletion versus a mutation of the RAI1 gene

Christine Brennan; University of Colorado Boulder

Smith-Magenis syndrome (SMS) is a genetically linked developmental disorder associated with impaired language. Approximately 90% of those with SMS have a genetic deletion within chromosome 17p11.2 and 10% have a mutation of the RAI1 gene.

Rationale: No previous comparisons of those with the deletion versus the mutation have focused on language/communication. This study aimed to determine (1) if there were genetic differences in language/communication between groups and (2) the importance of the RAI1 gene in language development.

Methods: Data from 33 children with SMS (23 with the deletion and 10 with the RAI1 mutation) from the International SMS Patient Registry were analyzed. Analyses focused on mode of communication, language, and literacy.

Results: All language and communication variables showed similar results with slight differences between groups and a slight advantage for those with the RAI1 variant form of SMS.

Conclusions: The similarity between groups is consistent with previous hypotheses that haploinsufficiency of the RAI1 gene is responsible for the SMS phenotype and confirms that the RAI1 gene is critical for language development.

There are no funding sources to report.


Examining the Role of Language Proficiency on Code-Switching Behavior in Bilingual Children with and without Developmental Language Disorder

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

This study explores the relationship between language proficiency and code-switching (CS) in Spanish-English bilingual children with and without developmental language disorder (DLD) over a period of two years. The participants were on average 5;11 years old at the onset of the study and included children with (n = 43) and without DLD (n = 57). Story generation and story retelling tasks were used to elicit language samples in English and Spanish. Regression analyses reveal a significant negative relationship between CS frequency and receptive vocabulary scores in both languages. Moreover,  DLD did not emerge as a significant predictor for specific CS types at distinct time points. These findings contribute to ongoing debate on the relationship between language proficiency and CS.

This research is supported by the National Institutes on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, Award Number K23DC015835 granted to Anny Castilla-Earls.


Examining measures of early syntactic knowledge in late-talking toddlers

Tracy Preza; University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
Windi Krok; Purdue University
Elizabeth Norton; Northwestern University
Lauren Wakschlag; Northwestern University
Pamela Hadley; University of Illinois Urbana Champaign

This study examined how measures of early syntactic ability differentiated late talkers with elevated risk for developmental language disorder from toddlers with transient early language delays. Late talkers with a persistent language delay (LT-P; n=21), late talkers with a transient language delay (LT-T; n=23), and toddlers with typically developing language (TD; n=60) were classified on prior history of language delay and mean length of utterance from a caregiver-child sample between 30-38 months. Three measures were computed from a structured priming task: the primed Index of Productive Syntax-CLAN (pIPSyn-C) primed unaccusative verb diversity, and primed subject diversity with unaccusative verbs (e.g., leaf fall, ball roll). ROC curves demonstrated that the pIPSyn-C provided good group classification accuracy between the LT-P and TD groups as well as the LT-P and LT-T groups. In contrast, unaccusative verb and subject diversity measures had only fair classification accuracy between the groups. Implications for developing diagnostically sensitive measures of elevated risk for DLD, and empirical support for theories of language knowledge in late-talking toddlers will be discussed.

NIDCD  R01DC016273 PIs: Norton & Wakschlag.


Mismatch of text complexity in grade-school curricula and standardized language assessments

Melissa Hill; University of Iowa
Stewart McCauley; University of Iowa

Language in the school-age years is assumed to develop largely from exposure to increasingly complex language at school. However, the language students are exposed to may not be as complex as assumed or align with the language tested on clinical language assessments. If language in curricula is less complex than that of assessments, students have fewer opportunities to learn tested linguistic concepts and structures. This study aims to explore this through corpus analysis of textbooks and assessments.

Elementary textbooks and clinical language assessments were analyzed for micro/macrolinguistic complexity. Complexity measures were compared across curricular texts and assessments, as well as grade level and subjects.

Initial analyses show that textbooks have higher syntactic complexity, lexical complexity, and lower readability. Textbooks and assessments do not differ significantly on cohesion measures. Assessments are more narrative-like compared to textbooks.

Assessments and textbooks are not linguistically congruent; reading comprehension on an assessment may be less difficult than that of curricular texts, emphasizing the need for educators to facilitate curricula comprehension, as well as speech-language intervention as needed.

The authors have no financial interests to disclose.


Rhotic Productions by Spanish-English Bilingual Children

Olivia Berther; University of Iowa
Christine Shea; University of Iowa
Carlos Irizarry-Pére; University of New Mexico
Philip Combiths; University of Iowa

This study examines rhotic productions of two Spanish-English bilingual children (ages 6;11 and 7;5) with suspected phonological delay, aiming to add insight into the acquisition and development of these later-developing phonemes across two languages in school-age bilingual children. Participants completed single-word elicitation probes in English and Spanish. Productions of target rhotics were transcribed and analyzed for phonetic, phonological, and acoustic characteristics. Results are discussed as they relate to the representation of bilingual phonological systems, cross-linguistic transfer, and implications of speech-language assessment.

This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, NIDCD F31DC017697 and the University of Iowa Office of Undergraduate Research.


The Development of Lateral Inhibiton in Spoken Word Recognition

Ege Gur; University of Iowa
Jaime Klein-Packard; University of Iowa
Abby Fergus; Princeton University
Bob McMurray; University of Iowa

Word recognition is supported by a competition process in which words that partially match the input are activated and compete for recognition. Recent work has shown that adolescents with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) do not fully resolve this competition, likely due to deficiency in inhibition among words (lateral inhibition). It is not yet clear how this develops. Two experiments investigated the development of lateral inhibition using a variant of the visual world paradigm. Experiment 1 compared adults (N=40), older children (11-12) (N=46), and younger children (7-9) (N=234). Adults demonstrated robust inhibition (d=0.76), with marginal evidence in older children. There was a small but significant effect in the younger group (d=0.13) due to the large sample. Experiment 2 asked if these weaker effects were due to the younger listeners’ failure to activate competitors, or if competitors were active but simply not inhibiting the target. It found robust competitor activation even in younger children, suggesting the weaker effects may derive from true inhibition differences. Implications for DLD are discussed.

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health Grant DC 0008089.


Socioeconomic and Personal Well-being in Adults With and Without Early DLD

Bruce Tomblin; University of Iowa
Philip Combiths; University of Iowa
Si On Yoon; New York University
Lindsey Carter; University of Iowa
Emily Zrostlik; University of Iowa
Stewart McCauley; University of Iowa
Kristi Hendrickson; University of Iowa

This study reports findings from the Iowa Trajectories of Language Disorders (ITOLD) study concerning the educational, economic, and life satisfaction in individuals who have been followed for 30 years beginning when they were in kindergarten. These individuals competed a questionnaire concerning these features of their life. These responses showed that the individuals diagnosed with developmental language disorder (DLD) in kindergarten, as a group, had lower education, household incomes, and ratings of life satisfaction. The DLD group showed greater variability than those with typical language in kindergarten suggesting that other important variables serve as moderators of the effects of DLD.


Associations between prelinguistic communication and vocalization development in preverbal toddlers with autism

Olivia Boorom; University of Kansas
Jena McDaniel; Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Suzanne Martell; University of Kansas
Lucy Cochrane; Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Audrey Southerland; Georgia Institute of Technology
Agata Rozga; Georgia Institute of Technology
Nancy Brady; University of Kansas

This study examines the relationship between prelinguistic communication skills and vocal development in young children with autism. As part of an ongoing longitudinal study of language development in preverbal toddlers with autism, participants were given a battery of social communication, play, and receptive and expressive language assessments at an initial assessment and again 3 months later. We specifically asked whether children’s receptive language and/or social communication at the initial visit predicted their stage of vocalization development, both concurrently and at the follow up visit (i.e., precanonical syllables, canonical syllables, or single words). Current data (n = 26) show significant positive associations between a child’s receptive language abilities and their vocalization stage, and between social communication skills and vocalization stage concurrently. Neither receptive language nor social communication skills were significantly predictive of children advancing to the next vocalization stage. Given the importance of vocalization development for future language skills in autism, continued research into how prelinguistic skills support vocal development will provide greater understanding of different profiles of language development in autism.

This work is funded by NIDCD R01DC020048.


Exploring the Language Experiences of Black, African American English Speakers in the California Bay Area

Karina Saechao; University of Kansas
Mabel Rice; University of Kansas

African American English (AAE) is one of the most widely used and extensively studied varieties of English. Over 80% of Black people speak AAE. Despite extensive literature on professional’s (e.g. teachers, SLPs) perceptions of people who speak AAE, a gap in the literature is Black people’s own perceptions of their AAE use and experiences. This study addresses these gaps utilizing a newly developed questionnaire that inquires about the background and language experiences of Black, AAE speakers in the California Bay Area (CABA) (N=40). Black, adult (18-85), long-term residents of the CABA were recruited. The authors designed a novel questionnaire to investigate these research questions: In what ways does perceived frequency of use of African American English versus General American English vary by age? gender? setting? communication partners? The significance of this study is to further our understanding of the language use patterns and experiences of the generations of Black parents and grandparents who are AAE speakers in the CABA.

This investigation was supported by the University of Kansas College of Liberal Arts & Sciences  Research Excellence Initiative.


Communication Across the School Day: A Nation-Wide Survey of Teachers’ Perspectives and Self-Rated Knowledge of Developmental Language Disorder

Brittany Ciullo; University of Massachusetts Amherst
Jill Hoover; University of Massachusetts Amherst

Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), a highly prevalent condition, significantly impacts a child’s classroom performance and engagement with the educational environment. Unfortunately, due to a lack of public awareness and understanding, DLD is often undiagnosed and misunderstood in schools. To investigate teachers’ knowledge and perceptions of DLD, a survey was conducted to assess teachers’ self-rated knowledge of DLD and its educational impact. Results indicate that the term DLD was unfamiliar to many teachers, which may contribute to classroom teachers’ low self-ratings of their ability to recognize students with DLD. Nevertheless, teachers understood many aspects of language difficulties and classroom accommodations. A relationship was found between the teacher’s current role (e.g., classroom teacher, special education teacher) and self-rated knowledge of DLD. Several misconceptions of DLD were also reported. Understanding teachers’ knowledge and self-ratings regarding DLD has important implications for collaborations between teachers and speech-language pathologists and ultimately ensuring that students with DLD receive the support they need in the educational environment.

This work was supported by a University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences Dean’s Doctoral Fellowship.


Down Syndrome, Language, and Executive Function: Investigating Group Strengths in Interference Suppression

Rebecca Stachowicz; University of Massachusetts Amherst
Jill Hoover; University of Massachusetts Amherst
Audra Sterling; University of Wisconsin-Madison
Amy Banasik; University of Wisconsin-Madison
Brittany Ciullo; University of Massachusetts Amherst
Claudia Schabes; University of Wisconsin-Madison

Past research has shown that children with Down Syndrome, when matched on mental age to typically developing children, show no significant differences in performance on non-verbal inference suppression tasks such as the fish Flanker task. We looked at executive function task results for 20 children with Down syndrome and 50 typically developing children, matching on non-verbal intelligence and MLU. Parent reports of executive functioning (measured by the BRIEF parent rating scale) are also considered. The present study will add to a growing conversation around Down Syndrome and executive function, specifically group strengths on interference suppression tasks, with the novel addition of MLU as a matching variable.

This study was funded by a multi-site NIH grant (R01 DC 019092) awarded to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, PI: Jill Hoover, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, PI: Audra Sterling.


Interventionist and child use of verbs varying in difficulty within a grammatical language intervention

Elizabeth Ancel; University of Minnesota
Miriam Kornelis; University of Minnesota
HaeJi Lee; University of Minnesota
Lizbeth Finestack; University of Minnesota

The variation of verb difficulty in input is an important component of grammatical language intervention for children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD). To implement verb variability in practice, we conducted grammatical language intervention sessions designed to elicit 24 unique target verbs varying in difficulty based on their frequency of use and phonological complexity. However, the actual use of target verbs included in the story retell and play activities varied when the interventionist modified verbs or when the child spontaneously produced a non-target verb. In this study, we analyzed transcriptions of intervention sessions with 4-9-year-olds to compare the interventionists’ and children’s adherence to the prescribed usage of verbs varying in difficulty, thus demonstrating the feasibility of including verbs of varying difficulty in different activities. We also compared the verb characteristics? frequency and phonological complexity? of the child’s spontaneously produced non-target verbs to the verbs modeled by the interventionist to determine whether they substituted target verbs with more familiar and easier-to-produce verbs.

This research is funded by NIDCD 1R01DC019374-01.


A preliminary study of self-reported quality of life in developmental language disorder

Caroline Larson; University of Missouri
Maya Snyder; University of Missouri
Ella Landers; University of Missouri

Rationale. Developmental language disorder (DLD) is a prevalent neurodevelopmental condition characterized by primary deficits in language and lifelong challenges in wellbeing. This preliminary study begins to characterize self-reported quality of life and relevant factors in DLD.

Methods. We administered a language assessment to determine DLD status (n = 5) and included a neurotypical comparison group (n = 20). Additional measures were: grammaticality judgement; self-reported quality of life; self- and parent- report of risk factors.

Results. The DLD group did not report poorer quality of life than NT individuals. Grammaticality judgement performance was differentially associated with happiness, ability to be oneself, and degree of sensory barriers and support in the environment in DLD relative to NT individuals. Risk factors including nonverbal ability and health history were associated with barriers to happiness and educational experiences.

Conclusions. Preliminary findings suggest a role for individual differences in a key area of language weakness, morphosyntax, in self-reported quality of life to a greater degree than DLD status. Nonverbal skills and health risk factors were also associated with wellbeing in DLD.

IBACS Seed Grant; NIMH R01MH112687-01A1


The Relationship Between IQ and Lexical Measures in School-age Children with Williams Syndrome

Philip Lai; University of Nebraska at Kearney

Williams Syndrome (WS) is a neurodevelopmental genetic disorder characterized by a deletion of about 28 genes on one copy of chromosome 7. Of interest to scientists is the uneven neuropsychological profile where a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in cognitive abilities exists and has become a distinguishing feature of WS. Language use has been considered a relative strength within the WS population. This strength in not ubiquitous on all language measures, as individuals with WS perform poorly on standardized language tests. In this study, the relationship between FSIQ and seven lexical measures were investigated. Language samples from fourteen school-age children with WS between 7 to 14 years-old were collected. Language samples were transcribed and entered into a web-based lexical complexity analyzer. A positive correlation with FSIQ was found for Number of Different Words but six other lexical variables did not reach statistical significance. The relative strength in speech production is once again observed, regardless of FSIQ. When children with WS are allowed to speak freely, they express language at a rate not indicative of their overall IQ level (NIH-NINDS P50NS22343).


Analyzing Emotive and Cognitive Word Use in the Narratives of School-Age Children with SLI

Ansley Davis; University of South Florida
Ruth Bahr; University of South Florida

Children with language impairments struggle to use vocabulary in the same ways as their TD peers. For children with language impairments, mastering abstract words (i.e., emotion and cognition words) is crucial as these concepts not only enrich their vocabulary but also play a pivotal role in enhancing the depth and quality of their narratives, offering a window into their cognitive and emotional development. Analyzing abstract words  can provide insight into whether word choice contributes to narrative quality in an oral language sample. The present study analyzed the use of abstract words in the oral narratives of school-age children with language impairments compared to their TD peers. Transcribed oral narratives from the Gillam dataset in the Child Language Data Exchange System (CHILDES) were selected for secondary data analysis. Quantitative results revealed statistically significant differences between children with SLI and their TD peers in the number of abstract words used as well as overall lexical diversity. Qualitative analysis revealed themes that related to word choice between language function groups. Research and clinical implications will be described.


Children draw talking: A comparison of preschoolers who are TD and those with DLD

Nicole Bazzocchi; University of Toronto
Katarina Miletic; University of Toronto
Lauren Choi; University of Toronto
Rachel Wright-Karem; Indiana University
Karla N Washington; University of Toronto

Rationale: Drawings offer a child-friendly way to include children as active participants in their care. This study examines how Jamaican Creole (JC)-English speaking children with typical development (TD) and those with developmental language disorder (DLD) express their communication experiences through drawings.

Methods: JC-English speaking children aged 4-to-5-years who were TD (n=5) or DLD (n=5) completed drawing sessions and the Speech Activity and Participation Assessment of Children (SPAA-C) visual Likert-type scale (happy/in-the-middle/sad/another feeling/don’t know) in both languages. Children’s drawings were qualitatively analyzed for themes and focal-points. Ratings on the SPAA-C were analyzed.

Results: The most frequently-coded themes varied between TD and DLD groups. TD children’s drawings more often expressed talking to family/friends and being happy while talking. Using the SPAA-C, TD children specifically named their feelings about their talking (e.g., happy, bored, shy) whereas children with DLD limited the feelings reported (e.g., happy, don’t know).

Implications: Using drawing supports our understanding of children’s communication experiences across developmental profiles, while also empowering active participation in assessment activities.

This work was supported in part by endowment gift funds and an NIH grant (1R21DC018170).


A modest proposal for selecting a gold standard for developmental language disorder

Amy Wilder; University of Utah
Sean Redmond; University of Utah

Currently, there is no agreed-upon gold standard for identifying cases of DLD or method for arriving at one.  Convergence with a majority of other existing references standards represents one potential criterion worth consideration.  Five commonly used DLD reference standards, the CELF-4, converging clinical markers, receiving services, parental concern, and MLU were used to explore the nature of convergence among standards within a community-based study sample of K-1st grade students. Fifty-one of the 111 participants were identified as positive for DLD by at least one standard, while only four cases were identified by all standards. The CCC-2 showed the highest overlap with other standards but failed to identify seven cases that met criteria for three or four other standards. Receiving services and MLU showed the least overlap. The CELF-4 failed to identify only one case that met criteria for three other standards, suggesting an omnibus language test may be the best option for this age group. However, limited convergence across all five standards suggests additional refinements are required and may involve clinical algorithms based on multiple measures.

Funding source: NIDCD R01DC011023


Narrative Macrostructure in Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Comparison to Autism

Sara Kover; University of Washington
Hannah Barton; University of Washington
Zara Schwartz; University of Washington
Eva Schulte; University of Washington
Lindsey Brodeck; University of Washington
Emily Morse; University of Washington
John Thorne; University of Washington

Rationale. Children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) experience many challenges with communication, including discourse. Very little is known about narrative macrostructure in children with FASD, despite its utility for revealing strengths and weaknesses among children with a variety of sources of language impairment, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Methods. Children with FASD (n = 23; 5 – 9 years old) and ASD (n = 17; 5 – 11 years old) provided narrative language samples, which were transcribed using SALT software and coded using Narrative Scoring Scheme (NSS). Participant groups were matched on age, nonverbal IQ, and mean length of utterance (MLU).

Results. Participants with FASD or ASD did not differ in narrative macrostructure performance. Within groups, narrative microstructure (e.g., MLU) was positively correlated with total NSS macrostructure scores.

Conclusions. The current findings point to shared correlates of narrative macrostructure performance in children with FASD and ASD.

Funding Sources. UW Addictions, Drug & Alcohol Institute Small Grant, UW Royalty Research Fund, and NIH UL1TR000423


Investigating Narrative Skills using questions: An insight into Macro and Micro structures of Language.

Diya Nair; University of Western Ontario
Theresa Pham; University of Western Ontario
Lisa Archibald; University of Western Ontario

Narratives, crucial for academic success, encompass macrostructure (organization of story elements) and microstructure (linguistic sophistication) elements. Children with Developmental Language Disorder and other learning disabilities often struggle with narrative skills. Previous research has primarily reported inclusion and improvements in macro- rather than microstructure elements. Priming questions have been found to impact macro- but not microstructure generation, although the questions have often focused on macrostructure elements. In this study, 7-to-8 year old children (n=22) generated a story after answering no questions, macroelement-focused questions, or microelement-focused questions. Results showed an improvement in narratives after questions were asked. Preliminary results are suggestive of an effect of question type with macrostructure questions leading to greater inclusion of macrostructure elements in story production and microstructure questions leading to greater inclusion of microstructure elements. The findings indicate that narrative generation of microstructure elements may require specific intervention or priming to show change.


Parent-mediated word learning in bilingual parent-child dyads

Emily Bagan; University of Wisconsin Madison
Caitlyn Slawny; University of Wisconsin Madison
Margarita Kaushanskaya; University of Wisconsin Madison

Parents use different methods to teach their children new words (e.g., labeling or pointing). Bilingual parents must also navigate language choice when teaching their children novel words. There have been few examinations of the behaviors of parent-child dyads during naturalistic word learning activities. We examined bilingual Spanish-English parents’ and children’s language use, novel word labeling, and pointing in a semi-naturalistic novel word learning activity. Parent-child dyads participated in a ten-minute coloring activity in which parents were instructed to teach their children three novel words. Interactions were video-recorded and later transcribed. We coded each utterance for parents’ and children’s language use (i.e., English, Spanish, codeswitched), novel word production, and pointing. Preliminary findings suggest parents and children use more English than Spanish or codeswitched utterances. Parents label the novel words and point more times per transcript than their children. This study provides insights into bilingual word-learning strategies and children’s behavior.

This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health Grant R01DC016015.


Understanding parents’ beliefs about language acquisition in culturally and linguistically diverse, low socioeconomic communities

Kylie Helm; University of Kansas
Mabel Rice; University of Kansas

A common assumption in studies of parental language input to children is that parents from low socioeconomic environments (SEE) provide less input to their children than parents from higher SEE, a gap in input assumed to be a causal factor leading to children from low SEE having fewer vocabulary words. There are two important gaps in the empirical evidence.  One is the report of low SEE parents themselves regarding how language is used in the home and the second is reports from both parental sources i.e., mothers and fathers. This study addresses these gaps using a newly developed questionnaire that measures parental perspectives on language acquisition, comparing mothers’ and fathers’ responses (n = 29).  Parents were recruited from community-based Head Start programs enrolling children from households with low-income levels.  The new questionnaire revealed mothers and fathers are similar in beliefs about patterns of interaction with their children at home. Further, the study provides considerations for measurement standards in culturally linguistically diverse populations.

This investigation was supported by the University of Kansas College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Research Excellence Initiative.


A comparison of conversational turn-taking during parent-child and examiner-child conversations among autistic boys and boys with FXS+ASD

Latifatu Mohammed; University of Wisconsin-Madison
Marianne Elmquist; University of Wisconsin-Madison
Audra Sterling; University of Wisconsin-Madison

Conversation skills are essential for social and educational outcomes. Challenges in pragmatic language, including conversational skills, are common among autistic individuals and individuals with fragile X syndrome (FXS). The familiarity of conversation partners can influence autistic individuals and individuals with FXS’s expressive language during conversations. However, the extent to which they differ in their turn-taking abilities during conversations with familiar and unfamiliar partners is unknown. This study used naturalistic language samples collected during two separate 10-minute conversation tasks: one with a familiar partner (i.e., mother) and one with an unfamiliar partner (i.e., examiner). Participants included 14 autistic boys and 14 boys with FXS+autism between ages 9 and 18, who were matched on chronological age and autistic traits. Results were analyzed in terms of number of turns, mean turn length in utterances, mean turn length in words, and percentage response to questions.  The implications of the study will be discussed.

Funding: NIDCD K23DC016639 (Sterling)


Narrative Macrostructure and Executive Functioning in Adolescents with Down Syndrome

Claudia Schabes; University of Wisconsin – Madison
Latifatu Mohammed; University of Wisconsin – Madison
Marianne Elmquist; University of Wisconsin – Madison
Amy Banasik; University of Wisconsin – Madison
Jill Hoover; University of Massachusetts Amherst
Audra Sterling; University of Wisconsin – Madison

Individuals with Down syndrome (DS) are impacted by intellectual disability and impaired language abilities. Though narrative production is cited as a strength in DS, we see large variability through within-group analyses. A possible explanation for differences in narrative production in DS is executive functioning (EF). In this exploratory study, we examined the relationship between narrative productions and EF in nine adolescents with DS. Our secondary question was to look at the relationship between experimental (Flanker, Local-Global, and Corsi) and parent-reported (BRIEF-2) EF measures. Narrative macrostructure was operationalized with an adapted Narrative Scoring Scheme (NSS). We used Spearman’s rank correlations to explore the relationship between EF and narratives, and Fisher’s z-scores to assess differences between parent-reported and experimental EF measures. The implications for research and clinical practice will be discussed.

Funding: NIDCD R01 DC019092 (PI: Sterling/Hoover).


The Influence of Length and Context on Reliability of Language Sample Measures for  Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children

Meganne Muir; Vanderbilt University
Adriana Valtierra; Vanderbilt University
Angie Walker; Kanas School for the Deaf
Jena McDaniel; Vanderbilt University

Language sample analysis is a naturalistic and ecologically valid method for assessing a child’s language skills, and it may be particularly beneficial for DHH children to supplement standardized assessments that often overlook their language needs. However, speech-language pathologists report lack of time as the primary barrier to implementing language sampling in their practice. The belief that children need time to become comfortable before demonstrating representative language skills (i.e., a “warm-up” period) further extends the process.

This study explores the effects of language sample length on the reliability of four spoken language measures for DHH children. The findings suggest that across three language contexts, samples ranging from 1-7 minutes achieve adequate reliability compared to 12-minute samples. Mean length of utterance was particularly reliable in sample lengths as short as 1 minute for play and conversation. Similar patterns of reliability were found in segments derived from the beginning and end of samples, suggesting that a “warm-up” period is not necessary. These considerations may increase efficiency, making language sample analysis more feasible in research and clinical settings.

This project is supported by ED/H325D220072.


Iterative Cycles of Design Research in the Co-Design of a Spoken Language Assessment Tool for Teachers of the d/Deaf and/or Hard of Hearing

Rachel Benninger; Western University
Lisa Archibald; Western University

Curriculum-based assessment tools are needed in order to foster the language and literacy development of d/Deaf and/or Hard of Hearing (DHH) students, but are often lacking. Following the co-design and initial development of an assessment with four components (vocabulary, morphological awareness, sentential syntax, and discourse), piloting took place and feedback was provided by end-users. In this phase of the project, participants provided feedback based on piloting of the assessment prototype. Feedback was provided via focus groups, interviews, and completion of a Qualtrics form, and was used to implement iterative cycles of revisions, directing development of the assessment tool. Feedback was provided for each of the four components, and for the tool as a whole, and focused on the content and nature of the tool and its ease of use. This directed iterative revisions and further piloting, resulting in a more effective assessment tool. Revisions of the assessment tool are nearing completion and the tool will be ready for implementation into wider practice in the coming months.

Funding provided by Social Studies and Humanities Research Council of Canada #890-2017-0072.

Poster Session #2 - Friday, May 31 at 3:30 PM


Caregiver self-efficacy and caregiver education in relation to reading difficulties and shared reading practices in Spanish-English bilingual families

Juliana Ronderos; Boston University
Kelsey E. Davison; Boston University
Jennifer Zuk; Boston University

Children’s language development is linked to their early language and literacy environments. Caregivers play a pivotal role in shaping the home language and literacy environment through direct language exposure and shared reading interactions. Furthermore, there is evidence of reduced self-efficacy perceptions among caregivers who struggle with reading, which contributes to reduced shared reading practices. Yet, it remains unknown how these relationships apply in a bilingual context. To address this gap, the present study examined self-efficacy as a potentially modifiable factor contributing to shared reading practices for bilingual Spanish-English families, as well as the potential effects of other caregiver traits (current reading difficulties and education) on these relationships. Initial findings from this study on bilingual families reveal effects that are specifically different from previous work with monolingual families. This work carries implications for understanding specific caregiver factors that may be targeted in language intervention programs specifically for bilingual families to promote enriching home language and literacy environments.

Funding sources: Boston University and NIDCD Grant T32DC013017.


Word Form Variability as a Clinical Marker of Developmental Language Disorder

Lisa Goffman; BTNRH
Sara Benham; University of Vermont
Katherine Gordon; BTNRH
Karla McGregor; BTNRH

Word form learning presents a significant challenge for children with developmental language disorder (DLD). Specifically, when attempting new word forms, children with DLD tend to produce errors in segments, syllables, and their sequential order. Here, we propose that the variability of word form productions across multiple attempts is a powerful marker that differentiates children with DLD from their typical peers. In our laboratories, we have elicited multiple productions of novel or unfamiliar word forms during nonword repetition or word learning tasks. We use the sound pattern variability index to quantify intra-word production variation. Across participants who range from 4 to 11 years and in forms that vary in length, syllable structure, and the presence or absence of a referent, we consistently find that individuals with DLD produce more variable attempts at a novel word form than their age-mates with typical language development. The results may be directly applied in clinical and research settings to aid in the identification and characterization of DLD.

Funding: NIDCD R01DC018410, R01DC016813, R01DC04826 (Goffman); NIDCD R01 DC011742 (McGregor)


Assessing the quality of a complexity-based treatment for children with language disorders: A mixed methods study

Kirsten Hannig Russell; Brigham Young University

Development of novel morphosyntactic treatments requires appraisal beyond its efficacy. A treatment’s overall effectiveness is also impacted by its potential for generalization and its acceptability to participants. This study considered the quality of a complexity-based morphosyntactic treatment targeting BE verb structures for three children with DLD and three children with Down syndrome. This study represents an extension of another study which found this complexity-based intervention to be efficacious. Specifically, this study evaluated (1) the extent to which trained items may have improved language production generally, and (2) how well the treatment was received by participants. Comparisons of pre- and post-treatment scores during language testing and information from narrative language samples revealed possible associations between the treatment and improvements for BE verb structures in naturalistic contexts, untreated morphemes, MLU, and percent grammatical utterances. Semi-structured interviews and surveys by participants and their parents indicated a complexity-based treatment approach was generally acceptable. Together, outcomes provide preliminary support for utilizing complexity-based approaches to facilitate widespread change across the linguistic system for some children with language disorder.

Funding source: Unfunded.


The Complement Clause Verb Production of Five-Year-Old Children with and without Specific Language Impairment

Ian Morton; California State University, Los Angeles
Lan-Anh Pham; California State University, Los Angeles
Ryley Park; California State University, Los Angeles

Children with specific language impairment (SLI) are known to have deficits in the area of complex syntax (Barako Arndt & Schuele, 2012). One potential challenge for children with SLI is the production of complex syntax vocabulary, such as complement clause verbs (CCVs). Diessel (2004) asserted that children’s early sentential complement sentences contain early-appearing CCVs, like think and know (e.g., I think it’s my toy). However, children also gradually acquire later-appearing CCVs, such as bet and remember (Diessel, 2004). It is possible that 5-year-old children with SLI produce more errors in matrix clauses containing later-appearing CCVs than early-appearing CCVs.

Twenty-six five-year-old children (SLI n = 13) completed a sentence imitation task. Sixteen sentential complement sentences contained the early-appearing CCVs think and know (8 sentences per verb). Sixteen sentential complement sentences contained the later-appearing CCVs bet and remember (8 sentences per verb).

We found that children with SLI produced more errors imitating later-appearing CCVs than early-appearing CCVs. Our results provide preliminary evidence that matrix clauses containing later-appearing CCVs pose a challenge for preschool children with SLI.

No funding source to report.


Comprehension and Production of Contrastive Reference in Autism: Effects of Semantic Interference and Individual Factors

Georgia Drakopoulou; CUNY Graduate Center
Klara Marton; CUNY Brooklyn College
Vicky Chondrogianni; The University of Edinburgh
Richard Schwartz; CUNY Graduate Center

This study investigated the comprehension and production of contrastive reference and informativeness in 42 monolingual English-speaking children, aged 6;0 to 9;11 years, comprising 26 neurotypical and 16 autistic children. Through computerized tasks, participants engaged in activities exploring comprehension and production of noun phrases with adjectival modification. Autistic children demonstrated superior comprehension to production. In production, they were more underinformative in the presence of a contrastive object and less overinformative in the absence of it compared to neurotypical peers. The presence of semantic interference impacted production but not comprehension. Age and general linguistic abilities influenced performance, with older children responding faster in comprehension. Younger children, across both groups, tended to be more underinformative in production, but the decrease with age was more pronounced in autistic children. Notably, higher language scores in autistic children correlated with increased overinformativeness. This study provides unique insights into the comprehension of informativeness in contrastive reference in autism, highlighting a production-comprehension difference and factors influencing informativeness. These findings contribute to understanding pragmatic language strengths and challenges in autism.

This research was funded by the CUNY Dissertation Fellowship.


The role of speaker reliability and mutual exclusivity in monolingual children’s novel word learning

Shalini Banerjee; Indiana University Bloomington
Ishanti Gangopadhyay; Indiana University Bloomington

The combined effect of speaker reliability and mutual exclusivity was assessed in 4-7 year-old English-speaking monolingual children. Novel objects were presented with familiar objects. Children were taught new labels by two different speakers: Reliable (speaker has a history of correctly naming objects) and Unreliable (speaker has a history of incorrectly naming objects). Children were also taught these labels under two conditions: Align (speakers labeled the novel object with novel names, aligning with mutual exclusivity) and Conflict (both speakers labeled the familiar object with novel names, conflicting with mutual exclusivity). Preliminary results revealed that children learned novel labels for novel objects from the unreliable speaker when the speaker was labeling the familiar objects, suggesting that children prioritized mutual exclusivity over a speaker cue. Surprisingly, children’s performance did not exceed chance levels in more favorable learning scenarios (e.g., when the reliable speaker provided novel labels for novel objects), suggesting that cooperative cues may not be beneficial in certain word-learning scenarios.

[This project was funded by the Graduate Student Research Fund awarded by the SLHS department at Indiana University].


Students’ Perceptions of Narrative Skills in Preschool Children Who Speak African American English

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

Previous research has found that pre-service students and other adults may hold negative views about African American English (AAE) and tend to give lower ratings for the language skills of children who speak AAE when compared to children who speak General American English (GAE). The purpose of the current study was to pilot the use of a simplified scoring rubric for judging the quality of children’s narratives and investigate whether college students who speak GAE exhibit linguistic biases toward AAE-speaking preschoolers with higher dialect densities. The current research is novel given that previous studies focused on school-age children. The results found that students with little to no training in language development scored children’s narratives similarly to trained examiners. In addition, they showed no biases toward children with higher dialect densities. These findings suggest that using language assessments focused on content may facilitate less biased judgments of children’s language skills.

The authors have no funding sources to report.


Morphophonological cues to gender assignment in the acquisition of French as a first language

Maureen Scheidnes; Memorial University of Newfoundland

There is debate about how learners assign grammatical gender to French nouns. This study seeks to contribute to this issue by examining the hypothesis that the final syllable of a noun can be a rule for gender assignment in young French learners (i.e., assign masculine to final open syllables and feminine to final closed syllables). To test this hypothesis, the final syllables and gender of nouns from the CDI (Wordbank) and from child-direct speech (Lyon corpus) were analyzed. The Tolerance Principle (Yang, 2016) was used to determine whether the number of candidates for the rule outweighed the number of exceptions (e.g., open syllable nouns that are indeed masculine versus those that are not) in terms of learnability effectiveness. The preliminary analyses from the CDI suggested that it would be more effective to apply a rule by which nouns ending in an open syllable are masculine, but it would be more effective to assign gender to nouns ending in a closed syllable on a piecemeal basis.  The CDS data revealed piecemeal learning to be computationally more effective in both instances.


Investigating Switch and Stay Strategies During a Shifting Task in Children With Developmental Language Disorder: A Time-Frequency Analysis

Asiya Gul; MGH Institute of Health Professions
Annika L. Schafer; MGH Institute of Health Professions
Kelsey Black; MGH Institute of Health Professions
Lauren S. Baron; MGH Institute of Health Professions
Yael Arbel; MGH Institute of Health Professions

Cognitive flexibility, a crucial feature of executive function, encompasses the ability to adapt thoughts and behavior to varying cognitive demands. Children with developmental language disorder (DLD) exhibit poor performance as compared to typically developing (TD) children in tasks requiring cognitive flexibility. This study aimed to investigate the oscillatory activity associated with feedback driven by performance from children with and without DLD while they performed a Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST). Theta oscillations (~4 – 8 Hz) in the mid-frontal region are implicated in cognitive flexibility processes, particularly in response to negative feedback, facilitating cognitive control processes.

Our preliminary results indicate poor performance and atypical theta activation patterns in children with DLD in comparison to TD controls. Theta activity differences during effective stay and switch behaviors were evaluated. An effective switch involves negative feedback followed by a change in response, while an effective stay entails positive feedback and rule retention. Children with DLD exhibited decreased theta in response to negative feedback, correlating with larger behavioral switch costs.

This work was funded by NIDCD R01DC018295 awarded to Yael Arbel.


Screening for developmental language disorders in adults: Identifying sentence repetition conditions that best separate young adults with typical language from those at risk

Brigitte Brown; Miami University
Gerard Poll; Miami University
Carol Miller; Pennsylvania State University

Developmental language disorder (DLD) affects individuals into adulthood, but screening tasks for DLD in adults are lacking. In children, sentence repetition is a promising screening task. Prior research suggests that tasks that are neither too easy nor too difficult best reveal language ability differences. Passive sentences are less frequent than active sentences, and so sentence repetition using passives may more effectively discriminate adults with DLD from peers. Forty-two young adults repeated sentences of varied lengths that were either active or passive structures. Sentences were controlled for word frequency and plausibility. Adults were classified as language typical or at risk by a battery with documented diagnostic accuracy and self-reports of functional consequences related to DLD. Results indicated that sentences with passive structures at intermediate lengths revealed the largest repetition accuracy differences between groups. Classification accuracy fell short of targets for clinical utility, but was promising given the borderline cases of DLD in the at risk group. Additional research is needed to confirm the results with a larger sample, and to understand the profiles of adults that were misclassified.

Project supported by Miami University Graduate Student Research Support Fund.


Preterite Error Patterns of Spanish-English Speaking Children with Differing Trajectories of Spanish Language Development

Julia Tomasulo; Northern Arizona University
Lindsey Hiebert; Northern Arizona University
Raúl Rojas; University of Kansas

Diagnosing developmental language disorder (DLD) in dual language learners can be challenging. Typically developing dual language learners can be heterogeneous, make grammatical errors in both languages, and/or experience language loss. Knowing markers of typical dual language development is important in the diagnosis of DLD. Tense marking in the English narratives of dual language learners has been investigated more than in Spanish. This study seeks to find the types of preterite errors made in Spanish narrative retells obtained from 14 young bilingual children in an English immersion school. Narrative retells were coded for preterite verbs, accuracy, and error types. Preliminary findings show that preterite accuracy and inaccuracy are about equal, and the most common error type is regularization of irregular verbs. Implications suggest that dual language learners show lower levels of accuracy than would be expected of typically developing monolingual peers. Attempts at tense marking may be what differentiates typically developing dual language learners from those with DLD.

This study was funded in part by: Grant GA 2013-016 – Jerry M. Lewis, M.D. Mental Health Research Foundation; Grant 13180 – Anonymous Donor.


The Peer Language Environment of Children With Developmental Language Disorder: A Corpus Study

Imme Lammertink; Radboud University
Elise de Bree; University of Amsterdam

It is widely acknowledged that children’s home language environment plays an important role in language acquisition: language input (LI) and communicative experiences (CE) in the home language have been evaluated [1,2]. Even though it is likely that children’s (continued) language acquisition is shaped by LI and CE in different contexts, such as the education context, we know very little as to how these other contexts affect language acquisition [2]. Particularly for children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) supportive (peer) language environments might be essential for their development. Therefore, we are making an inventory of the peer language environment (LI and CE) of Dutch children with DLD (8-11 years). As children with DLD in The Netherlands either attend mainstream education or special education, children’s LI and CE might differ between these settings. The envisaged unique corpus of peer language will allow a comparison of peer language input and peer communicative experiences across the two educational settings.

This study is financed by the Dutch Research Council (VI.Veni.211C.054).


Using clinician- and system-level factors to predict comprehensive assessment competency

John Heilmann; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Alyssa Wojtyna; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Joseph Chase; Advocate Aurora Health
Jessica Bizub; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Dawn Merth-Johnson; Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Through decades of research, investigators have compiled a rich evidence base supporting best practices in child language assessments. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) face very real barriers to the implementation of comprehensive language assessments, such as time constraints and limited usability of assessment tools. We implemented a comprehensive assessment support system for over 250 school-based SLPs across six school districts using the Active Implementation Framework (Fixsen et al., 2019). To document baseline clinician competency, we developed a Practice Profile where SLPs rated their proficiency for different assessment tasks. We documented strong internal consistency when analyzing the SLPs’ responses across all 41 items in the Practice Profile. We next explored factors at the clinician-level (e.g., years experience; bilingual status) and system-level (e.g., district; assigned caseload) and identified how both clinician- and system-level factors influenced Practice Profile ratings. We will discuss how these data are used with our broader Implementation Science framework.

This project was funded by the Wisconsin Department of Instruction through a grant from the US Department of Education.


Parents’ Attitudes Towards Persons with Language Disorders: Validation of a Multidimensional Attitudes Scale

Amy Louise Schwarz; Texas State University
Tina Melamed; University of Texas at Tyler
Jessica Bowers; Texas State University
Ceci Perez; Texas State University
Hervé Abdi; University of Texas at Dallas

Rationale: In the U.S, 17% of children struggle to learn language. Interactions between a child’s language disorder and the parent’s attitudes about the disorder can influence how well children function. Parents’ reactions to education about the disorder and participation in treatment is a common way that SLPs identify parents’ attitudes; but this process takes time. To quickly identify parents’ attitudes, we created and validated the Multidimensional Attitudes Scale for Persons with Language Disorders (MAS-LD).

Methods: 940 parents with minor-aged children (49% with, 51% without reported language difficulties), were recruited through a crowdsourcing platform to complete an online survey. The data were split for exploratory factor (EFA) and confirmatory factor analyses (CFA).

Results: The EFA identified five factors explaining together 57% of the variance: negative emotion, positive emotion, thoughts, behaviors, work performance. The CFA indicated adequate fit.

Conclusion: The MAS-LD is a valid assessment for quickly determining the attitudes that parents have towards persons with language disorders. Future studies will test how SLPs can use the MAS-LD to shape counseling to address parents’ negative attitudes.

Funded internally by Texas State University.


Word learning in Mandarin-speaking Children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder: The role of word characteristics

Jiayu Yu; The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Li Sheng; The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Despite frequent reports of delayed vocabulary in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), many studies of word learning found relatively intact performance in these children on the initial fast-mapping of novel words. The present study manipulated the characteristics of the to-be-learned words to examine if the presence of semantic category information in the novel words would facilitate the formation of detailed phonological and semantic representations beyond the fast-mapping stage. 106 Mandarin-speaking children with and without ASD learned two types of pseudo-disyllabic novel nouns, one with semantic head and one without semantic head. The ASD group performed significantly worse than the typically-developing group on all tasks. The presence of the semantic head in the novel word did not facilitate the formation of phonological representations of new words in the ASD group. These findings revealed significant difficulties in autistic children when detailed phonological and semantic representations of new words were measured over multiple training rounds. The ASD group’s inability to tap on an important word characteristic cue (i.e., semantic heads in compound words) in their ambient language may hinder rapid vocabulary growth.


Language and Cognitive Skills in “Grown Up” Late Talkers

Heidi Mettler; University of Arizona
Mary Alt; University of Arizona
Cecilia Figueroa; University of Arizona
Kimberly Leon; University of Arizona


The developmental path of a late-talking toddler is poorly understood. The purpose of our project is to gain insight into this population’s language and cognitive skills later in childhood.


Recruitment is ongoing, but to date, we have recruited 32 primarily monolingual English-speaking children between 4 and 10 years old. All were previously identified as late talkers through their participation in our earlier intervention studies. As part of the current study, children completed standardized testing of speech, oral and written language, nonverbal intelligence, and cognition. For this poster, we focus on outcomes from language and cognitive assessments.

Results & Conclusions

To date, data collection has been completed for 19 children. Assessment scoring and analyses are ongoing. Results will provide insight into language and cognitive skills in “grown up” late talkers as they compare to their peers.

This project is funded by an NIH TALK initiative supplement 3R01DC015642-06A1S1.


Social Orienting and Joint Attention in Young Autistic Children

Siddhi Patel; The University of Texas at Dallas
Pamela Rollins; The University of Texas at Dallas

Early signs of autism include differences in social attention particularly social orienting (SO) and coordinated joint attention (CJA). CJA emerges later than SO, however they may be manifestations of the same construct. Understanding the SO-CJA relationships is essential because of CJAs predictive relationship with language in autistic children. Further, early autism interventions can increase social attention. This study aims to explore the relation between SO and Pathways intervention on CJA in autistic children. Participants were forty-seven young autistic children randomly assigned to either Pathways or Services as Usual. Standardized assessments and parent child interaction videos were conducted at baseline and post-intervention. Results reveal that baseline SO had a significant and small magnitude effect on post intervention CJA however, no group effect was observed once SO was in the model. These findings highlight the influence of SO on CJA. The absence of group effect may be due to the intervention’s short duration.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s (THECB) Autism Grants Program (Grants 20476, 27509) supported this research. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the THECB


Treating Words Late Talkers Do Not Understand: Outcomes and Insights

Sarah Cretcher; University of Arizona
Heidi Mettler; University of Arizona
Nora Evans-Reitz; University of Arizona
Mary Alt; University of Arizona

Purpose: This study tested whether we could successfully use the Vocabulary Acquisition and Usage for Later Talkers (VAULT) intervention approach to target words late-talking toddlers neither understood nor produced.

Methods: Nineteen late talkers received 8 weeks of VAULT to target words that were absent from the child’s pre-treatment receptive or expressive vocabulary. VAULT was modified to optimize object variability, to increase semantic knowledge. Outcome measures included effect sizes for target and control words said, rate of overall vocabulary acquisition, and outcomes on receptive vocabulary probes.

Results: Results show an overall positive treatment effect of VAULT on unknown words, although VAULT was not successful for all participants.

Conclusions: When a child responds to treatment, VAULT can be a successful tool for teaching words not understood pre-treatment. While not all children learned, the words that were taught tended to be later-acquired words compared to previous studies.

This study was funded by NIH-NIDCD grant #2R01DC015642-06A1.


Dynamic Assessment of Spanish-English Bilingual Preschoolers: A Feasibility Study

Sarah Lynn Neiling; University of Arizona
Mary Alt; University of Arizona
Elizabeth Peña; University of California, Irvine

Dynamic assessments—those that focus on teaching a skill and measuring real-time learning to infer learning potential—may be valuable diagnostic tools for identification of Developmental Language Disorder in Spanish-English bilingual preschoolers. The current study used a case-control design to evaluate the feasibility of modifying a previously created dynamic assessment to determine if enhancements to the teaching phase will increase its classification accuracy to acceptable levels. In this application of dynamic assessment, the child was taught an English invented morpheme through focused stimulation input and enhanced recasting via a scripted storybook. Measures of learning including elicited production of the invented morpheme during the teaching phase, modifiability (derived from observations during the teaching phase), and post-test performance were analyzed with a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve to determine sensitivity and specificity; early data yield sensitivity and specificity of 100%. The psychometrically-sound test, the BESOS, was the reference standard. This study is the first step to creating a diagnostically accurate dynamic assessment for Spanish-English bilingual preschoolers.

Funding: University of Arizona Graduate & Professional Student Council Research and Projects Grant, Galileo Circle Scholarship


A Meta-analysis of the Relationship between Language and Mathematics in Bilinguals and the Task Effect

Mariana Gomez; UC Irvine
Jiali Wang; UC Irvine
Joseph Hin Yan Lam; UC Irvine
Siyu Ye; UC Irvine
Katherine T. Rhodes; UC Irvine
Elizabeth Peña; UC Irvine

The purpose of the study is to examine the association between language and mathematics tasks among bilingual populations with a focus on task effects. A total of 111 studies (1179 effect sizes) met the inclusion criteria through extensive search. The overall average correlation between language and mathematics among bilinguals is .56, p < .001. Analyses revealed salient insights about the task specific effects. Moderation analysis suggested that for language tasks, reading comprehension had a stronger relation with mathematics compared to listening comprehension, phonology, semantics, speaking, syntax, and word reading tasks. Similarly, among math tasks, word problems had a stronger relation with language tasks compared to calculation and numeric knowledge. The correlations between different language and mathematics tasks will also be reported based on the language of the assessment. This study can shed light on the specific relationships between language and mathematics tasks in bilinguals and understand the potential language demands for different language and mathematics tasks.

No Funding Support.


Revisiting Cummins’s Threshold Hypothesis: the Relationship between Language and Mathematics in Bilinguals

Siyu Ye; University of California Irvine
Joseph Hin Yan Lam; University of California Irvine
Mariana L. Gomez; University of California Irvine
Jiali Wang; University of California Irvine
Katherine T. Rhodes; University of California Irvine
Elizabeth D. Peña; University of California Irvine

The purpose of the study is to examine the relationship between language and mathematics in bilinguals, specifically on the moderation effect of English language proficiency level. With reference to Cummins’s (1976) hypothesis, bilingual students with limited language proficiency in the instruction language may face linguistic demands in mathematics tasks, potentially leading to lower performance. It is thus hypothesized that for students classified as English Language Learners (ELL), the relation between language and mathematics would be higher compared to non-ELL students. Our search and screening processes led to the inclusion of 111 studies. The overall correlation between language and mathematics among bilinguals is .56 (p < .001). Metaregression results indicated that the correlation between language and mathematics was higher for students classified as ELL than non-ELL students. The interaction between ELL classification and the assessment types (i.e., standardized tests, state tests, and experimental tasks) on the relation between language and mathematics will be reported. This study can shed light on the role of language proficiency in the relationship between language and math performance to evaluate Cummins’s threshold hypothesis.

No Funding Support.


Semantic Development in Bilingual Preschoolers

Morgan Jones; University of Colorado Boulder
Pui Fong Kan; University of Colorado Boulder

This study investigates semantic development in Cantonese-English bilingual preschoolers, focusing on their ability to generate words in specific categories using either a slot-filler or taxonomic strategy. Participants included 47 children, aged between 50 and 62 months, who primarily spoke Cantonese at home and began learning English in a preschool setting. The category generation task was adapted from Peña et al. (2002). Children were asked to name items in the categories of food, clothing, and animals in both Cantonese and English, under two conditions: taxonomic and slot-filler. The findings reveal that children produced more words in the taxonomic condition, with a notable age-related improvement and a shift towards taxonomic organization in Cantonese. However, this shift was not as evident in English, despite an increase in word production in both conditions. The study also highlights differences in the frequency of words generated across languages, conditions, and categories. The results provide insights into how bilingual children organize vocabulary in L1 and L2. The findings have implications for developing more culturally responsive and effective communication strategies in educational and clinical settings.


Interactional Features of Maternal Input to School-age Children with Down Syndrome During a Storybook Context

Rebekah Bosley; University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Marie Channell; University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

This study examined the interactional features of maternal input provided to 40 school-age children with Down syndrome (DS) during a wordless storybook context. The study aims were to (1) describe three main types of interactional features: prompting, verbal responding, and directing the interaction of maternal input during a wordless storybook task and (2) examine the association between the different types of maternal input and child characteristics (nonverbal IQ, MLUm, and expressive vocabulary). Results indicated that mothers spent the majority of their time telling the story. Prompting was the highest frequency and rate of the interactional features of maternal talk. Maternal talk that was verbally responsive was the next highest frequency and rate, and then directing the interaction followed. No significant association was observed between the interactional features of maternal talk and child characteristics. Overall, these findings suggest that mothers of school-age children with DS still engage in a storybook context and frequently use the interactional features of maternal talk.

NIH Grant R03HD083596 PI: Channell.


The Iowa Trajectories of Language Development (ITOLD) project:  A 30-year longitudinal study of language in individuals with and without DLD

Kristi Hendrickson; University of Iowa
Emily Zrostlik; University of Iowa
Stewart McCauley; University of Iowa
Jacob Oleson; University of Iowa
Si On Yoon; NYU
Phillip Combiths; University of Iowa
J. Bruce Tomblin; University of Iowa


Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) in adulthood is severely understudied. Here, we characterize language abilities in adults with DLD and ascertain the dimensionality of adult language.


We captured language comprehensively (receptive/expressive language at the phonological, lexical, sentence, and discourse levels) in adults with and without a childhood diagnosis of DLD who participated in the original Iowa Longitudinal Project (n = 41, thus far).


Adults with DLD demonstrated lower scores than adults without DLD across all language areas, though the largest effects were observed for Phonological Processing [t(38) = 3.8, p = .0005, d = 1.21]. An exploratory factor analysis revealed 3 factors: Vocabulary/Memory, Phonological Processing, and Sentence-level Language.


Here, we provide a profile of language abilities in adults with DLD, which will aid in efforts to provide services for this population. The factor analysis highlights the importance of considering various linguistic components in understanding individual differences in language abilities in adults.

This research was supported by the NIH under grant R01DC020143 awarded to the first author KH.


Real Time Processes during Word Recognition in Children with and without DLD and/or Dyslexia

Bruce Tomblin; University of Iowa
Jamie Klein-Packard; University of Iowa
Hyoju Kim; University of Iowa
Bob McMurray; University of Iowa

While vocabulary acquisition is typically considered through the lens of acquiring lexical knowledge, increasing evidence suggests that the real-time process recognizing spoken words develops throughout adolescence. Word recognition is widely seen as a process of competition between candidate words that can vary in two dimensions. Crucially, over the course of development, listeners become faster at activating the correct word and suppressing competitors.  However, within an age, children with developmental language disorder (DLD) differ in the degree to which competitors are fully suppressed. However, findings for DLD have only been obtained with adolescents and young adults. It is not known whether this pattern is seen in younger children, or is related to dyslexia, which is highly co-morbid with DLD. Thus, we examined 242 3rd grade children who were part of a longitudinal study, the Growing Words Project.  We found no evidence for a deficit in resolution associated with either dyslexia or DLD, though there were intriguing differences in the activation rate for children with DLD only. This suggests that competition resolution deficits may be a late emerging feature of DLD.


Decreased competition between semantically related referents in Developmental Language Disorder

Jina Kim; University Of Iowa
Si On Yoon; New York University
Kristi Hendrickson; University Of Iowa

The core language processing mechanism involves competing and selecting the correct words from multiple semantic representations. Children with typical language (TL) show a competitive process during word production. In contrast, children with developmental language disorder (DLD) demonstrate word-level deficits, such as a smaller vocabulary and weaker semantic networks. We examined the extent to which word-level deficits manifest in real-time language processes in adults diagnosed with DLD in childhood. Thirteen adults with a confirmed childhood diagnosis of DLD and 10 adults with TL participated in a picture naming task while their eye gaze was monitored. We manipulated the presence of semantically related competitor (present (rose vs. lily) vs. absent (rose vs. sandal)). Eye gaze was analyzed in two time windows (200-700ms, 700-1200ms post-stimulus), and the Target Advantage Scores were calculated to examine competition between the target and the competitor. A group effect was found in the later-time window, showing decreased semantic competition in adults with DLD compared to TL. These findings suggest that reduced semantic competition may arise from difficulties in accessing semantic representations within sparsely connected semantic networks.

NIH R01 DC020143


Language acquisition in multilingual children: The contributions of morphosyntax on child verb use and the impact of home literacy on family language strategies

Samantha Ghali; University of Kansas

Purpose: Prior research indicates that parent-caregiver report is reliable in predicting children’s multilingual language trajectories (Paradis, 2017). This study examined the role of multiligual children’s morphosyntactic skills in verb use and the role of home literacy richness in family use of language facilitating strategies.

Method: 24 Arabic-English multilingual parents completed caregiver questionnaires on their children’s multilingual language development (ages 3-6). Data were analyzed using simple linear regression.

Results: Results revealed high agreement between mothers and fathers and statistically significant models.

Funding: ASHFoundation (Ghali)


Executive Function and Grammatical Processing: Evidence from Neurotypical Development

Jill Hoover; University of Massachusetts Amherst
Audra Sterling; University of Wisconsin-Madion
Rebecca Stachowicz; University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amy Banasik; University of Wisconsin-Madion
Brittany Ciullo; University of Massachusetts Amherst
Claudia Schabes; University of Wisconsin-Madion

This study addresses the intersection of cognition and language. We ask whether 3 components of executive function (i.e., shifting, working memory, and inhibition) predict expressive and receptive measures of grammar. We will present data from 3- to 6-year-old neurotypically developing children who completed a battery of standardized language tests, and a spontaneous language sample. Children also completed 3 experimental executive function tasks (i.e., local global, corsi block task, flanker task) and 2 experimental grammatical tasks measuring finiteness markers (sentence imitation and grammaticality judgment). Tense and agreement productivity scores from spontaneous language samples will also be presented. Taken together with ongoing data collected from children with Developmental Language Disorder and fragile x syndrome, this work will allow us to address key clinical and theoretical questions regarding areas of overlap and distinction in grammar and cognition as well as the complex intersection between executive function and grammar over time.

This work is supported by DC019092, a multisite NIH grant awarded to the University of Massachusetts Amherst (PI: Jill Hoover) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (PI: Audra Sterling).


Two Methods for Caregiver-Collected Language Measures: Feasibility and Caregiver Comfortability

Miriam Kornelis; University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Marianne Elmquist; University of Wisconsin-Madison
Claudia Schabes; University of Wisconsin-Madison
Audra Sterling; University of Wisconsin-Madison
Lizbeth Finestack; University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Researchers and clinicians are challenged to identify appropriate outcome measures to evaluate language growth of young children with Down Syndrome (DS). We examined the feasibility of two methods for caregiver-collected home-based measures: caregiver-child interaction videos and audio-recordings with the Language ENvironment Analysis System (LENA). Caregivers of children with DS between the ages of 2- and 5-years-old and their child participated in this study. Participants recorded two 16-hour LENA recordings and two 15-minute videos of caregiver/child interactions. We analyzed recording fidelity of both procedures as well as caregiver comfortability with the procedures using surveys. Descriptive survey results demonstrated caregiver comfortability with the self-collection procedures in the following areas: practicality of implementation, satisfaction, appropriateness, and desirability for continued use. Results from our study have the potential to change how researchers collect caregiver-child interactions in a manner that is reliable, valid, and convenient for families.

This project is funded by NIH (R21HD111807).


Parent-Implemented Intervention and Coaching by Graduate Students in a University Clinic

Emma Townsend; University of South Alabama
Brenda Beverly; University of South Alabama

Parent-implemented intervention is effective for children with language impairments, and interventions that utilize parent coaching are more effective than traditional parent teaching methods. Speech-language pathology (SLP) graduate programs, however, are not providing students ample opportunities to experience this intervention. Twelve SLP graduate students participated in a one-week parent-implemented child language treatment program while the remainder of their cohort served as a control group. Students in the experimental program reported significantly greater increases in preparedness than students who had other clinical experiences as indicated by pre- and post-program surveys. Half of the SLP students in the experimental program were taught coaching strategies in addition to the treatment and adult teaching methods. These students reported significantly higher preparedness for early intervention than their peers. This innovative clinical education activity carried out in a university clinic combined with classroom-based role play and manualized training is a step towards addressing implementation gaps for early intervention best practices.


Delays in Language Milestones Predict Preschool Language Level in Children with Fragile X Syndrome

Lisa Hamrick; University of South Carolina
Jane Roberts; University of South Carolina

Language delays are common for children with fragile X syndrome (FXS). This study explored the impact of delayed language milestones on preschool language level in FXS and the extent to which these associations may be explained by other features of the FXS phenotype (i.e., developmental level, autism features). Twenty-one children with FXS were assessed at approximately 5 years of age. Language milestones were assessed using the ADI-R, autism features were assessed using the ADOS-2, and language level and developmental level were assessed using the Mullen Scales of Early Learning. Results indicated that children who used words by 24 months of age and phrases by 36 months of age had significantly higher preschool language levels. The impact of meeting the word milestone by 24 months was significant even after accounting for the effects of developmental level and autism features. This work highlights the significance of early language milestones for children with FXS and suggests that supporting meaningful language development in early intervention may enhance later language abilities.

This work was funded by NIMH (R01MH090194).


Exploring Cross-Linguistic Language Sample Analysis for Preschoolers

Nicole Bazzocchi; University of Toronto
Leslie E Kokotek; University of Cincinnati
Karla N Washington; University of Toronto

This study addresses the risk of misdiagnosis of developmental language disorder in bilingual or non-mainstream dialect-speaking children in English-dominant settings. In such contexts, standardized assessments for Mainstream American English (MAE) may lead to inaccurate evaluations. Language sample analyses (LSAs) are proposed as a potential solution, but their cross-linguistic applicability remains underexplored. This pilot study compares language samples from typically developing 4-year-olds who speak African American English (AAE), Jamaican English (JE), and MAE. Results revealed dialect-specific linguistic patterns, particularly with respect to performance on the Index of Productive Syntax (IPSyn). Overall, however, scores on other LSAs did not reveal significant differences across dialects. Notably, the IPSyn exhibited the highest responsiveness, capturing morphosyntactic structures unique to each dialect. While additional research is needed to better understand the implications of using LSAs for diverse speakers, this preliminary study offers a promising direction for accurately characterizing language use in linguistically diverse preschoolers. This research also emphasizes the importance of cross-linguistic tools that support a comprehensive understanding of language development.

This study was partially funded by grants from the NIH (R01DC019337 & R21DC018170).


Supporting oral language through talk moves

Theresa Pham; University of Western Ontario
Lisa Archibald; University of Western Ontario

Talk moves are conversation tools that teachers can use to promote oral language and equitable participation in classroom talk. Teachers use talk moves to help students share and reason about their ideas as well as to listen to and think with others In this study, we examined whether teachers’ use of talk moves is associated with students’ language abilities and participation. Data from 209 mathematical lessons from 21 teachers were reanalyzed. We found that teachers were more likely to use talk moves than provide corrective feedback. Specifically, teachers used talk moves encouraging students to share their ideas the most, and asked students to repeat each other the least, with the remaining talk moves intermediate. Interestingly, results from Bayesian linear mixed models revealed that talk moves was positively related to students’ use of mental state verbs, linguistic complexity as well as encouraging different students to join the discussions. Specifically, talk moves inviting other students to ‘add on’ or ‘question others’ had the most benefits. Overall, results highlight advantages of including talk moves in classroom talk for students’ oral language and participation.

Funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.


Cognate Effects on Novel Morpheme Learning in Bilingual Children

Maddie Crist; University of Wisconsin-Madison
Caitlyn Slawny; University of Wisconsin-Madison
Margarita Kaushanskaya; University of Wisconsin-Madison

How to optimize treatment outcomes for bilingual children with language disorders remains unclear, but designing interventions in English that capitalize on children’s knowledge of another language by using cognates may be beneficial. Cognates share form and meaning across languages such as “león” in Spanish and “lion” in English. Prior research indicates that bilingual children learn and produce cognates more easily than non-cognates. However, some research indicates that cognates may cause interference effects. The present study examines whether utilizing cognates can enhance novel morpheme learning. Data collection is ongoing, with 9 children tested so far. We anticipate recruiting 30 participants. A novel morpheme /ku/, signifying part-whole distinction, is taught to Spanish-English bilingual children with cognates or with non-cognates. Preliminary results indicate that children demonstrate better learning in the non-cognate (M = 93.75%, SD = 24.46%) than the cognate condition (M = 78.33%, SD = 41.54%). While data collection is still ongoing, this may suggest that using non-cognates rather than cognates may be helpful for morpheme learning in bilingual children.

Funding source: Hilldale Undergraduate/Faculty Research Fellowship


Semantic Representation and Network Organization in Young Autistic Children

Kathryn E. Prescott; University of Wisconsin-Madison
Janine Mathee-Scott; University of Wisconsin-Madison
Jenny Saffran; University of Wisconsin-Madison
Susan Ellis Weismer; University of Wisconsin-Madison

This study aimed to inform semantic networks in autistic children by examining specificity of lexical representations of familiar nouns and sensitivity to the semantic relationships among them in preschool-aged autistic children. Participants were 20 autistic (24-36 months) and 20 receptive language-matched neurotypical (NT) children who completed an eye-gaze task involving hearing spoken familiar nouns while viewing target and distractor images. In Target-Present trials, the spoken noun matched the target image. In Target-Absent trials, the spoken noun was semantically-related to the target image (i.e., “Where’s the banana?”, images of cookie and truck). In Target-Absent trials, autistic children looked less to target than NT peers and did not look more to target compared to chance. However, they did look more to target in Target-Present than Target-Absent trials and the group x condition interaction was not significant. These findings suggest that while autistic preschool children as a group may not yet be as sensitive to semantic relations between familiar nouns, their existing semantic representations are specific to the noun category.

Funding: NIDCD (R01 DC012513, R01 DC17974, F31 DC020901, F31 DC020902), NICHD (U54 HD090256)


Perceptions of Parents of Deaf/Hard of Hearing Children on Communication Modalities for Speech and Language

Camryn Lowe; Rockhurst University

Rationale: It was recorded that 65,000 children in the US received a cochlear implant (CI). Early intervention is crucial for hearing loss in newborns and younger children to ensure language acquisition and development. There are very few articles that explore the parents’ perceptions and the knowledge they acquire for this decision. Methods: 42 caregivers of Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) children completed an online 23 questions survey gathering quantitative data. Results: RQ 1: A paired samples T-test was compared the reported pressure felt by physicians to audiologists to opt for a cochlear implant. The results showed no significant difference (p = .096). RQ: 2 A chi-square test of independence completed to examine the relationship between communication modalities used by the child. One variable approached significance (p = .077), which related to the parent’s motivation to seek further education in ASL. Conclusion: Due to a small sample size and lack of variability, the results show no significance in either research questions. This information could change our approach in the context of counseling and aural habilitation in children and their caregivers.


A Case Study of Sketch and Speak Intervention for Students with Language-Related Learning Disabilities

Shiloh Sather; University of Wyoming
Dr. Amy Peterson; University of Wyoming

This poster will discuss results of a case study of Sketch and Speak intervention in a pre-/post-test descriptive design for students in grade 5 with and without language-related learning Disorders (LLD). Sketch and Speak intervention teaches students to take notes in two forms, pictography and bulleted notes, and to use oral practice to improve comprehension of grade-level informational texts (Peterson & Ukrainetz, 2023; Peterson et al., 2021; Ukrainetz, 2019). This case study explored new elements of instruction within Sketch and Speak including small group delivery and explicit instruction on main ideas, details, and complex vocabulary. Intervention procedures, materials, and proximal outcome measures including oral reports, note quantity and quality scores, and short-answer recall scores will be discussed for each participant. A distal outcome measure, the SALT Expository task, will also be discussed.

No funding source was used to complete this project.


Exploring the Relation Between Sociodemographic Factors and Language Skills in American Sign Language and Spoken English for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children

Shreyas Teegala; Vanderbilt University
Angie Walker; Kansas School for the Deaf
Jena McDaniel; Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

Learning and health outcomes are often modulated by sociodemographic factors (e.g., race and socioeconomic status). For deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) children, gaps between their language skills and those of their typical hearing peers may be exacerbated by various aspects of their social identity. In this analysis, we evaluate the relation between two sociodemographic factors, race and county population density, on language skills, which were quantified by the American Sign Language (ASL)/English Language Milestones measure. Race and population density were classified dichotomously (white children versus children of color and urban versus non-urban children). We study these relations in participants from a larger population-based study of young DHH children who use ASL and/or spoken English. The findings indicate that when participants with secondary diagnoses were excluded, white DHH children significantly outperformed DHH children of color in spoken English skills. However, we found no statistically significant difference in language skills between DHH children from urban and non-urban backgrounds. These results demonstrate the importance of assessing the influence of sociodemographic factors on language outcomes to facilitate more holistically equitable intervention practices.

Poster Session #3 - Saturday, June 1 at 9:00 AM


Maternal oral reading expressiveness in relation to late-talking and typically-developing toddlers’ concurrent language skills

Kelsey Davison; Boston University
Laura Doherty; Boston University
Brittany Manning; Northwestern
Lauren Wakschlag; Northwestern
Elizabeth Norton; Northwestern
Jennifer Zuk; Boston University

Caregiver-child shared reading is understood to provide a rich platform for language exposure in early childhood. Accordingly, shared reading is commonly targeted in early intervention to facilitate language skill development among children with language difficulties. Yet, it remains unknown whether caregivers’ oral reading expressiveness may serve as a component of shared reading that relates to children’s language skills. As a first step, this study examined whether acoustic measures of caregivers’ oral reading expressiveness (mean fundamental frequency (fo), rate) during shared reading differed between mothers of late-talking versus typically-developing toddlers. Findings indicated no differences in oral reading expressiveness between groups. We then examined oral reading expressiveness in relation to toddlers’ concurrent language skills across the whole group. Mean fo related to toddlers’ receptive language skills while controlling for income-to-needs and maternal education. These findings suggest that oral reading expressiveness is associated with children’s early emerging language skills. Future work is needed to determine how oral reading expressiveness relates to broader aspects of children’s home language environments.

This work was supported by NIDCD Grant R01DC016273, NIMH Grant R01MH107652, and The Dyslexia Foundation.


Measuring phonological structure of children’s vocabularies using a lexical decision task

Ron Pomper; Boys Town National Research Hospital
Karla McGregor; Boys Town National Research Hospital
Mike Vitevitch; The University of Kansas

Rationale: Children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) differ from their peers with typical language development (TLD) in vocabulary size and structure. This project uses a lexical decision (LD) task to measure the phonological structure of children’s vocabularies. Methods: 16 5- to 10-year-old children with TLD completed a LD task that was verbally administered over Zoom. Using only the words each child knew on the LD task, we calculated individual clustering coefficients, C, to measure levels of interconnectivity in their vocabularies. Results: The average structure of children’s vocabularies was similar to adults’ vocabularies (i.e., if all words in the LD task were known). Relative to older children, however, younger children’s vocabularies had higher C values (more densely connected), especially for neighborhoods with low C values when all words are known. Implications: Prior research examined vocabulary structure using large corpora of spontaneous productions or parent-report checklists. We demonstrate that a lexical decision task is a low-tech, easy to implement alternative. Future work will include children with DLD, a step that could ultimately enable earlier identification and more precise interventions.

Funding: 1F32DC020344


Children with Specific Language Impairment and the Imitation of Sentential Complement Sentences

Violet Tirado; California State University, Los Angeles
Ian Morton; California State University, Los Angeles
Christina Gallegos; California State University, Los Angeles

Preschool and early school-age children with specific language impairment (SLI) produce more grammatical errors within complex syntax utterances, such as sentential complement sentences (Marinellie, 2004). Diessel (2004) asserted that early-emerging sentential complement sentences (e.g., containing matrix clauses with fixed word-pairings like I think) precede true sentential complement sentences (e.g., containing matrix clauses that consist of varied subjects and verbs overtly marked for tense and agreement, like She remembered). Children with SLI may be delayed in producing true sentential complement sentences compared with same age typically developing (TD) peers.

Five-year-old children with and without SLI completed a sentence imitation task. We conducted two 2 x 2 ANOVAs with dependent variables of percent sentential complement sentence imitated and percent matrix clauses imitated. Language Impairment Status (language impaired, typical language) was the between-subjects factor and Matrix Clause Status (true matrix clause, formulaic matrix clause) was the within-subjects factor.

There was a significant language impairment status x matrix clause status interaction. Our results support the notion that true matrix clauses pose a significant challenge for preschool children with SLI.

No funding source to report.


How do SLPs diagnose DLD in schools?

Anne C. Reed; Florida State University/Florida Center for Reading Research
Kelly Farquharson; Florida State University/Florida Center for Reading Research
Karla K. McGregor; Boys Town National Research Hospital
Lizbeth H. Finestack; University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) in public schools are responsible for the data sources used to make eligibility decisions for students with developmental language disorder (DLD). States vary in their operational definitions of eligibility, which can cause confusion for education professionals, including SLPs, who must make these decisions as a part of the evaluation team. This study sought to determine what data sources are used in eligibility determination for DLD. Associated factors including consideration of home language, provision of response-to-intervention (RTI), and standardized testing requirements were also explored. Survey results from 665 school-based SLPs indicated an average of 6.32 data sources are considered with standardized tests, record review, and teacher questionnaires used most and literacy assessment least. Implications for preservice training, school-based practice, and continuing education are discussed.

Funding was supported, in part, by a grant from FSU’s Institute of Politics and through the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education Grant R305B200020 to the Florida Center for Reading Research at Florida State University. Opinions expressed are those of the authors and not the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.


Divergent Vocabulary Development in Autistic Children: A Network Growth Analysis

Eileen Haebig; Louisiana State University
Stanley West; Louisiana State University
Christopher Cox; Louisiana State University

Autistic children are typically late to develop their expressive vocabulary, but little is known about their early word learning process. The current study compared three network growth models on their ability account for typical trajectories of expressive vocabulary acquisition in autistic and non-autistic children. Using vocabulary checklists from the Communicative Development Inventory (CDI), we estimated the words autistic and non-autistic children produce and the vocabulary size at which half of the children in each group is expected to produce each word. We then expressed the CDI words as a network, with edges (links between words) defined by the learning environment (estimated using word association and child-directed natural language corpora), and vocabularies as sub-networks with potential for growth. Both groups appear to preferentially acquire words that are connected to many other words in the learning environment. However, autistic children appear to have a particular preference for acquiring words that have many connections with words they already know. Thus, both groups leverage semantic structure in the learning environment for vocabulary development, but may have different learning biases.

Funding Source: LEQSF(2020-23)-RD-A-05


Exploring Nonword Repetition for Farsi and Farsi/English-Speaking Children Using a Quasi-Universal Task

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

Nonword repetition (NWR) tasks are reliable clinical assessments used in various languages, but their effectiveness in assessing bilingual children is inconclusive. Chiat and Polišenská (2016) created the Cross-Linguistic NWR (CL-NWR) task to accommodate several languages. This study examines the clinical utility of CL-NWR with monolingual Farsi- and bilingual Farsi/English-speaking children, addressing whether CL-NWR scores differ between groups and if they correlate with age. Nine bilingual Farsi/English-speaking, and seven monolingual Farsi-speaking, aged four to seven years completed the CL-NWR task. The task was conducted on Zoom in an activity where children added a bead to a necklace upon repeating each nonword. Responses were recorded and scored using Chiat and Polišenská’s (2016) system, evaluating consonant and vowel accuracy. Preliminary analyses suggest no difference in CL-NWR scores between monolingual and bilingual children; the correlation between the children’s age and CL-NWR scores approached significance (r = .39). The CL-NWR task holds promise as an unbiased clinical tool.

Funding: The first author is supported by a departmental teaching assistantship.


Learning Outcomes and Error Processing during Statistical Learning in Children With and Without Developmental Language Disorder

Kelsey Black; MGH-IHP
Aditi Parikh; MGH-IHP
Asiya Gul; MGH-IHP
Lauren Baron; MGH-IHP
Yael Arbel; MGH-IHP

Children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) demonstrate difficulties acquiring and processing syntactic and morphosyntactic rules. Learning these skills requires implicit learning; specifically, sensitivity to statistical regularities. Previous research has found that statistical learning plays an integral role in language acquisition, yet the learning mechanisms in DLD remain understudied and debated. The aim of the present research is to address this gap by evaluating learning outcomes, error patterns, and neurophysiological responses to errors in a visual artificial grammar learning task in children with and without DLD. Behavioral results show that children with DLD were sensitive to underlying patterns in the grammar but achieved a lower accuracy than children with TD. Planned ERP analysis will compare group differences of the P600 in response to nongrammatical strings.

This work was funded by an NIH NIDCD grant (R01DC018295) awarded to Yael Arbel.


Feasibility of Varying Objects to Teach Toddlers Colors: A Single Subject Experimental Design Study

Katrina Nicholas; Nevada State University
Morgan Anderson; California State University, East Bay
Danielle Hu; University of Wisconsin – Madison
Chelsea Miller; California State University, East Bay

Rationale: Research on adjective learning is relatively limited. Informative contrast, in which children are presented with a target adjective alongside a contrasting non-target adjective, facilitates young children’s learning of binary adjectives (e.g., opposites – big vs. small; Tribushina et al., 2013). Input variability, in which children are presented the same target adjective while the objects vary (Mintz & Gleitman, 2002), may be better for non-binary adjectives, such as color. Our study investigates the feasibility of applying input variability, a well-established intervention technique used for teaching other word classes (Alt et al., 2014; Nicholas et al., 2019, 2023, 2024), to teach colors to a two-year-old.

Methods: A 28-month-old boy participated in a single subject experimental design. Colors were taught using varying objects. Pre- and post-treatment probes were compared.

Results: Visual inspection and a Tau effect revealed expressive gains of target color words.

Conclusions: Preliminary results suggest input variability may be a viable teaching method for non-binary adjectives, such as colors.

Funding Sources: California State University, East Bay Research, Scholarly, and Creative Activities (RSCA) Grant and Center for Student Research Scholar’s Program.


The role of chunked determiner phrases in syntactic bootstrapping

Huanhuan Shi; New York University
Sudha Arunachalam; New York University

Children can learn verb meanings from their linguistic context if the context is informative, but not too demanding for children to process. Previous research suggested that preschoolers struggle to learn verbs in informative contexts with modified determiner phrases (e.g., the tall boy is pillking) due to processing difficulties. This study assesses if chunking the informative elements beforehand reduces processing load and thus supports verb learning. Monolingual English-speaking children (N = 194) aged 30 to 41 months (mean = 33.2 months) participated in a verb-learning task. Novel verbs were introduced in contexts with modified determiner phrases, but presentation was preceded by one of two types of pre-exposure. In the Chunked condition, children first heard the determiner phrases (e.g., the tall boy) as a chunk before hearing the verb. In the Jumbled condition, they heard the words “the,” “tall,” and “boy” in different phrases but never as one chunk.

Children did not learn better in the Chunked than the Jumbled condition. This suggests that the process of chunking did not effectively reduce the processing load of modified determiner phrases in verb learning.

NIH R01 DC016592


A Multi-State Look into Early Intervention Speech-Language Pathologists’ Confidence Identifying and Diagnosing Autism

Adelaide Parr; Northern Illinois University
Allison Gladfelter; Northern Illinois University

Although autism can be reliably diagnosed by 18 months of age, long wait times and limited access to qualified providers prevent families from obtaining diagnostic services. Trained speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are qualified to diagnose autism, ideally as part of a multidisciplinary team. SLPs working on early intervention (EI) teams are well-situated to help close this diagnostic wait time gap. The purpose of this survey study was to explore EI SLPs’ confidence in identifying and diagnosing autism, experiences serving autistic children on their caseloads, and potential barriers/facilitators to increasing diagnostic confidence. 287 EI SLPs from 23 states responded to survey questions about experience, beliefs, and confidence in diagnosing autism. Results indicated that an overwhelming majority felt confident in their ability to identify autism in toddlers. However, reported confidence in ability to diagnose autism was much lower. Greater awareness of diagnosis as within our scope of practice, promoting autism acceptance (reducing caregiver resistance), and access to diagnostic tool training and diagnostic experts would reportedly increase confidence.

Funding: NIU Enhance Your Education Grant and Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Language and Literacy.


Caregiver Reports of Spanish-English Bilingual Children’s Grammatical Productivity

Alicia Escobedo; SDSU/UCSD
Sonja Pruitt-Lord; SDSU

Caregiver reports are an integral part of language assessment and offer insight into language abilities in a variety of language domains. For bilingual children, caregiver reports allow for unique insight into children’s home language. The current study aims to investigate how caregiver reports of children’s grammatical productivity in the home language provides information on bilingual children’s emerging skills. This study specifically investigates bilingual children’s grammatical productivity, a measure of breadth and diverse use of grammatical structures. In the current study, we examine the productivity of articles and direct object clitics from the reports of caregivers and compare this measure with children’s Spanish language samples. We will examine the relationship between children’s reported grammatical productivity and language sample measures. Additionally, we will examine the cultural validity of this measure, in alignment with the Cultural Adaptation Process model. The results of this study will contribute to research on culturally-responsive measures for language assessment in diverse populations.

This work was funded by an NIH F31 fellowship (1F31HD111303-01).


Kinematic analysis of preschool-aged children’s sequential pattern learning during a manual serial reaction time task

Leah Sack; The University of Texas at Dallas
Hiranya Kumar; The University of Texas at Dallas
Sébastien Hélie; Purdue University
Janna Berlin; Boys Town National Research Hospital
Lisa Goffman; Boys Town National Research Hospital

Certain domain-general cognitive processes, such as sequential pattern learning, may underlie the myriad deficits exhibited by children with developmental language disorder (DLD). The Serial Reaction Time task (SRTT) is an approach used to assess sequence learning, but it is limited by its reliance on reaction time averages by block to index learning. In this methodological study, we drew on measures used to assess spatiotemporal stability in speech production (i.e., spatiotemporal index, STI) to a modified SRTT to capture more nuanced indices of manual sequence learning. Twenty typically developing (TD) preschoolers completed a simple SRTT comprised of a local deterministic pattern. Results showed increased motor stability in the second exposure to the patterned block compared with the first, evidencing motor learning. This study confirms the feasibility of using motion capture to assess sequential pattern learning during SRTTs among typically developing preschoolers and has potential to enhance our understanding of the possible mechanisms underlying DLD.

Funded by NIH NIDCD R01 DC016813.


Developmental language disorder at adolescence: variability in communication skills, social skills, and perception of self-efficacy

Chantal Desmarais; Université Laval
Élody Ross-Lévesque; CIRRIS
Marie-Catherine St-Pierre; Université Laval
Francine Julien-Gauthier; Université Laval

Profiles of individuals with developmental language disorder (DLD) vary greatly. Yet, this variability has not been examined in adolescents with DLD. Here, we determined if statistically different subgroups could be identified in 49 adolescents with DLD using scores on measures of language, social skills, and perception of self-efficacy. To that effect, a hierarchical cluster analysis was conducted using the results to the CCC-2, the Social Skills Rating System, and a self-efficacy scale. The analysis identified three clusters, or subgroups, with different combinations of characteristics. In cluster 1, the 20 participants presented with weak scores on all measures. In cluster 2, the 21 participants presented with low language scores and higher social skills and self-efficacy scores. In cluster 3, the 8 participants had the highest language scores but low social skills and more behavior problems. These distinct profiles point to different intervention priorities that may ultimately inform planning for services for these youth, especially in a response to intervention approach.

This research was supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


The relationship between objective and subjective measures of student dialect use and teacher ratings of student language ability

Franchesca Arecy; University at Buffalo
Alison Hendricks; University at Buffalo

The accuracy of identification of developmental language disorders (DLD) among students that are culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) is complicated by the linguistic bias present in language assessments and broader societal bias. Teachers play an important role in improving the referrals for language assessments because of the extensive time they spend with their students as well as the training in language development. Previous research has demonstrated the limitations of teacher reports of student language ability. The current study examines the relationship between teacher ratings of language and literacy and two measures of dialect use from an informal language sample. As part of a larger study, students in grades K-2 (n = 71) completed a set of standardized assessments and language samples. Objective and subjective measures of dialect were explored by computing two variables from an informal semi-structured conversation with a research assistant. Preliminary results suggest that both objective and subjective measures of student dialect use are significantly correlated, but these measures were not significantly correlated with teacher ratings of ability. The dialect use measures should be considered by researchers and clinicians.


Examining Potential Mediators of the Relationship between DLD and Executive Function Performance

Leah Kapa; University of Arizona

The relationship between developmental language disorder (DLD) and executive functioning is complicated by the fact that many other variables are related to executive function performance. Previous research has reported positive relationships between executive functioning and receptive vocabulary, IQ, and socioeconomic status (SES). Comparisons of children with and without DLD have found group differences on these same variables. Therefore, reports that children with DLD have poorer executive functioning relative to typically developing peers may be due to the mediating effects of other related variables as opposed to a direct effect of DLD status on executive functioning. Parallel mediation analysis revealed that receptive vocabulary (PPVT-4) and non-verbal IQ (K-ABC–II) were significant mediators of the relationship between DLD and executive function performance (DCCS) when maternal education was included as a covariate. However, DLD status continued to have a significant direct effect of executive functioning when the mediators and covariate were included in the model. These findings highlight the inter-related nature of these variables and indicate that after accounting for mediating variables, DLD status remains a direct predictor of children’s executive function performance.

Funding: NIDCD F32DC014188


Narrative Macrostructure Across Bilingual Groups

Danyang Wang; University of California – Irvine
Alexander Choi-Tucci; University of California – Irvine
Joseph Hin Yan Lam; University of California – Irvine
Chin SHen Chan; Gallaudet University
Giang Pham; San Diego State University
Lisa Bedore; Temple University
Elizabeth Peña; University of California – Irvine

This study examined narrative macrostructure performance in 27 early school-age bilingual children divided into three groups of 9 by their first language: Spanish, Vietnamese, or Mandarin. Children were matched on age and language experience. All children completed tasks of story tell and retell in English and their home language. Results showed that children performed higher on English than the home language in total production and comprehension measures, but performed similarly on episode structure measures across languages. Across groups, children performed similarly on most macrostructural measures, except for three home language measures (tell production, tell comprehension, retell comprehension) and one English measure (retell comprehension). Lastly, children performed higher on story retell than story tell on English production measures, aligning with previous research showing better performance on story retells than tells. Results suggest that episode structure is an appropriate measure to assess bilinguals given that it is less affected by language (English vs. home language) and group (Spanish vs. Vietnamese vs. Mandarin bilinguals). Culture- and sample-related differences in narrative experiences and structures will be examined to explain across-group differences.

Funding: R01DC018329 (Peña).


Social Drivers of Health Associate with Communicative Outcomes of Minoritized Autistic Adolescents and Young Adults

Teresa Girolamo; San Diego State University
Alicia Escobedo; San Diego State University
Tyler Hicks; University of Kansas

Purpose: Language and environment are important for outcomes in autism, but little is known about social drivers of health (SDOH). This study examines whether language and SDOH (sense of community, unmet service needs, barriers to services) associated with SRS-2 social communication impairment t-scores or VABS-3 communication domain scores.

Method: Minoritized autistic adolescents and adults (N = 62) completed a behavioral assessment protocol including language and NVIQ. Bivariate and partial correlations examined associations between communicative outcomes, language scores, and SDOH.

Results: SRS-2 social communication impairment t-scores significantly associated with sense of community, unmet needs, and barriers to services but not language or services received. These relationships were slightly greater when controlling for NVIQ and language. VABS-3 communication domain scores significantly associated with language, services received, unmet needs, and barriers. These SDOH relationships were slightly weaker when considering NVIQ, and some were non-significant when considering NVIQ and language.

Conclusions: Findings support the relevance of SDOH and language in communicative outcomes. Larger analyses are needed to understand how language intersects with SDOH to shape aspects of communicative experiences and trajectories.

Funding: ASHFoundation (Girolamo)


Exploring Maternal Language Use on Bilingual Children’s Self-reports of Proficiency and Experiences

Janelle Flores; University of Houston
Anny Castilla-Earls; University of Houston

This study explored maternal language use and its role in bilingual children’s self-reports of proficiency and bilingual experiences over time. Prior research indicates maternal language is associated with bilingual children’s language outcomes. ,  However, few studies have investigated the role of maternal language on bilingual children’s self-reports of proficiency and experiences. Maternal language use data were drawn from a parent questionnaire. The Houston-Questionnaire (Houston-Q) was used to obtain self-reported data on language proficiency and experiences at four-time points. Longitudinal data were utilized to conduct a multi-level modeling analysis for n = 111 Spanish-English bilingual children. Analyses revealed increased Spanish self-reports of proficiency over time and significant differences in self-reports of proficiency based on maternal language use. For English, significant differences were only observed between self-reports of proficiency and maternal language use. For bilingual experiences, significant findings for changes over time and differences based on maternal language use were found. Study results provide further evidence on maternal language use and changes in bilingual children’s self-reported experiences and language proficiency over time.

Project funded by NIDCD K23 grant awarded to Dr. Castilla-Earls.


Adults With Developmental Language Disorder Exhibit Competition Resolution Difficulties During Complex Sentence Processing

Stewart McCauley; University of Iowa
Zara Harmon; Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Si On Yoon; New York University
Philip Combiths; University of Iowa
J. Bruce Tomblin; University of Iowa
Kristi Hendrickson; University of Iowa

While recent decades have seen efforts to characterize the sentence-level language abilities of children and adolescents with developmental language disorder (DLD), sentence processing in adults with DLD has received limited attention. Here, we present findings on complex sentence processing in adults with and without DLD. Eye-gaze was recorded as part of a visual world paradigm experiment in which participants heard object-relative clause sentences. E.g., Last week, the reporter[NP1] [that the senator[NP2] attacked] admitted[main verb] the error. Importantly, successful comprehension requires resolution of interference between the head noun (NP1) and subject of the relative clause (NP2) to reactivate NP1 upon encountering the main verb. Adults with DLD exhibited comprehension difficulties as well as greater competition between NP1 and NP2 after hearing the main verb. Adults with DLD also exhibited an initial delay in fixation to NP2 which gradually corrected over the course of the experiment (a learning effect). We discuss the extent to which these patterns stem from relative inexperience with OR sentences versus general processing mechanisms tied to inhibition and competition resolution.

Supported by NIH grant R01DC020143 awarded to KH.


Phonological and Lexical Processing Skills on Oral Reading Ability

Adrian Bradley; University of Iowa
Kristi Hendrickson; University of Iowa
Emily Zrostlik; University of Iowa
Si On Yoon; New York University
Stewart McCauley; University of Iowa
J. Bruce Tomblin; University of Iowa
Philip Combiths; University of Iowa

There is overlap between the cognitive and linguistic mechanisms that support language development and those that support skilled reading. However, the nature and extent of this overlap remains to be fully understood. Further, a nuanced understanding of this relationship may be crucial in identifying shared or dissimilar etiologies in developmental language and reading impairments. In the current study, adults in their mid-30s, with and without a history of developmental language disorder (DLD), were recruited from the individuals who participated in the Iowa Longitudinal Study (e.g., Tomblin et al., 1997). Participants completed a comprehensive assessment battery targeting language and reading skills, including tests of real- and nonword oral-reading, nonword repetition, and picture naming. Analysis of the relationships between participants’ raw scores on assessment tasks found nonword reading to be most strongly correlated with oral-reading ability. These relationships and analysis of phonetic transcriptions of their productions in the same tasks are then related to underlying processes that may influence language and reading ability into adulthood for individuals with and without a history of DLD.

This research was supported by NIH grant NIDCD R01DC020143 awarded to KH.


The home literacy environment actively shapes reading outcomes throughout the school-age years: Evidence from a large longitudinal dataset

Melissa Hill; University of Iowa
Stewart McCauley; University of Iowa

While home literacy environment (HLE) is correlated with early literacy, long-term effects of on reading comprehension (RC) have not been widely examined. This study aims to explore the relationship between HLE and RC outcomes throughout grade school and to determine if HLE continues to exert active influence on later RC outcomes, separate from early reading outcomes.

We draw from a rich longitudinal dataset on a variety of developmental measures collected from over 400 children throughout grade school. Regression model comparisons were used to examine the longitudinal relationship between HLE at kindergarten and RC outcomes at second grade, fourth grade, eighth grade, and tenth grade.

Model comparisons demonstrate that HLE not only accounts for unique variance (over and above a range of pre-literacy skills) in early RC abilities, but continues to account for unique variance through the 8th grade, even when RC abilities from previous grade levels are included as model predictors.

These findings underscore the influence of HLE on RC outcomes, suggesting that HLE continues to actively shape RC outcomes through adolescence.


Investigating the Real-Time Components Underlying Children’s Passage Reading

Charlotte Jeppsen; University of Iowa
Jamie Klein-Packard; University of Iowa
Keith Apfelbaum; University of Iowa
Bob McMurray; University of Iowa

While fluency assessments predict reading outcomes in children, they do not specifically capture silent reading or isolate specific factors that may underlie efficient reading. In contrast, traditional eye-tracking indices during passage reading, such as first fixation duration (FFD) and regressions, (Rayner, 1997), precisely characterize underlying processes supporting efficient silent reading. These indices change with age, yet the components contributing to their variance remain unspecified in children. We investigated the contribution of age, lexical access, language, and reading outcomes to changes in eye movements during passage reading in 156 children in Grades 2-4. Eye-movements were collected while participants silently read passages, and lexical access captured using the Visual World Paradigm. Commonality analyses revealed unique variance of decoding ability, age, and lexical access on many eye-tracking indices. A Principal Component Analysis of the eye-tracking indices generated two components specified by the Simple View of Reading (Hoover & Gough, 1990). Thus, efficient lexical access, language ability and age are some components that underlie efficient passage reading in developing readers.

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health Grant DC 0008089.


Noisier Speech Categorization in Children with Language and Reading Disabilities

Hyoju Kim; University of Iowa
Jamie Klein-Packard; University of Iowa
Eldon Sorensen; University of Iowa
Jacob Oleson; University of Iowa
J. Bruce Tomblin; University of Iowa
Bob McMurray; University of Iowa

Both Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) and dyslexia have been proposed to derive in part from low-level speech perception deficits which may affect downstream language/reading processes. However, DLD and dyslexia are highly comorbid, raising questions of whether speech perception deficits in one group are driven by the other. Moreover, methodological limits of the traditional forced-choice categorizations create uncertainty as to the nature of the deficit. We examined speech categorization in 3rd-grade children with language (LD) and reading disabilities (RD), using a visual analog scaling (VAS) task that overcomes these limits. In the VAS task, participants hear tokens from a speech continuum (e.g., beach-peach) and indicate the degree of correspondence between the stimulus and each word by selecting a point on a continuous rating scale. Results revealed noisier categorization in LD and RD than typically developing peers, suggesting deficits in lower-level cue encoding and mapping input onto categories in LD and RD. These findings underscore the need for a new approach to understanding speech categorization in this population.

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health Grant DC 0008089.


More and Less Social Listening Comprehension: A Pilot Study

Meghan Davidson; University of Kansas
Randi Hutto; University of Kansas
Kandace Fleming; University of Kansas

In this study, we examined typically developing (TD) children’s (n = 27, 4-11 years) listening comprehension of stories containing more and less social information to determine if TD children bootstrap their story understanding to social world understanding. Parents completed questionnaires about their child social communication and language abilities. Children completed a listening comprehension task, where they listened to more and less social stories and answered literal, physical inferential, and socioemotional inferential comprehension questions. Using a generalized mixed-effects model, we found that more social compared to less social stories had higher comprehension. Literal comprehension was better than inferential comprehension, and physical was better than socioemotional inferential comprehension. Older children had higher comprehension, especially for inferential questions, and children with higher social communication had higher comprehension. This pilot study supports previous conjectures that TD children bootstrap their story understanding to their social world understanding and paves the way for future studies larger samples of TD children and autistic children for whom social information in stories may be particularly difficult.

A New Investigator Research Grant from the University of Kansas funded this study.


Differences in word learning from predictable versus unpredictable input in autistic and non-autistic children

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

The predictive impairment in autism hypothesis has shown promise for explaining some phenotypic characteristics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The utility of this theoretical framework for explaining difficulty with language learning, however, remains largely unclear. Given that children learn words in their natural, often unpredictable environments, difficulty tracking unpredictable stimuli might have profound impacts on word learning. The current study examined how difficulties aggregating unpredictable input might impact novel word learning in ASD. Thirty autistic and 31 non-autistic, cognitive-ability-matched children participated in an eyegaze word learning task. Four novel words were taught, two with the same adjective at every exposure (predictable condition) and two with variable adjectives (unpredictable condition). Findings suggest that both groups were able to learn novel words taught in both predictable and unpredictable sentence contexts. However, groups differed significantly in their ability to predict upcoming novel words based on predictable adjectives. Autistic children looked significantly more to target during the anticipation window in the predictable condition, whereas the NT group did not show a significant difference in anticipation between the two conditions.

Funding: NIDCD R01DC017974; NIDCD F31DC020902.


A Cultural Adaptation Process of the Eliciting Language Sample Analysis (ELSA) Protocol: Bilingual administration with Latinx autistic children

Nancy Garcia; University of Massachusetts Amherst
Ada López González; University of Massachusetts Amherst
Iris Sosa; ABC Familias community advisory board
Megan Gross; University of Massachusetts Amherst

The current project adapts the Eliciting Language Samples for Analysis (ELSA, Barokova et al., 2021) protocol to measure bilingual communication in Latinx autistic preschoolers. In the first phase of the Cultural Adaptation Process model (Domenech Rodriguez et al., 2011), the research team met with a community advisory board consisting of local parents, speech language pathologists (SLP), community leaders, and autistic adults, to gather their perspectives and feedback on modifications. In the second iterative piloting phase, bilingual SLPs and parents provided additional feedback following trial administrations of the protocol with Latinx preschoolers. The Framework for Reporting Adaptations and Modifications-Enhanced (FRAME, Wiltsey Stirman et al., 2019) was used to document adaptations to the administration, language, and content of activities during both phases. By documenting the adaptation process, we hope that other researchers may be able to make use of this Spanish/English bilingual adaptation of the ELSA or follow a similar process for their own linguistic and cultural context.

[Funding: NIH K23DC020224, Dean’s Fellowship, departmental PhD support]


Exploring the Social Validity of a Parent-Implemented Early Intervention for Children with Language Delays in Puerto Rico

Ada López González; University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Nitza Rodríguez; Albizu University-San Juan
Megan Gross; University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Parent-implemented interventions have been studied primarily with the Non-Hispanic White population, creating a critical gap in addressing Latine children with language delays. Our goal was to gather information from stakeholders in Puerto Rico to better understand the cultural and linguistic context to later adapt a parent-implemented early intervention. A mixed methods approach was used, including a focus group with speech-language pathologists, and a survey for caregivers with young children. Additionally, a small subset of caregivers participated in follow-up interviews, observations, and a language assessment. SLPs participating in the focus group emphasized family as one of the most important components in early intervention. Preliminary survey data from caregivers of children with language delays reflected a high level of interest in parent coaching but limited experience with this practice. These results underscore the importance of increasing interventions for this population. Tailoring these interventions to their cultural and linguistic context by considering the strategies that are most relevant is crucial to obtaining the best results possible when implementing the intervention.

[Funding: UMass-Amherst SPHHS Dean’s Ph.D. Fellowship, Graduate School Pre-Dissertation Grant & NIH K23DC020224]


Acoustic characteristics of third-person singular -s in interventionist models during grammatical language intervention

Elizabeth Ancel; University of Minnesota
Benjamin Munson; University of Minnesota
Lizbeth Finestack; University of Minnesota

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs), like other adults, adapt their speech to meet specific conversational needs, such as when directing their speech toward children. Because of their clinical role and motivation, SLPs may make nuanced adjustments to their speech while addressing children in clinical settings to highlight a specific sound or grammatical element. To better understand this variability, in this study, we analyzed the speech of three SLPs as they administered a sentence imitation task during a therapy session targeting the third-person singular  -s (e.g., “the boy kicks” or “the cat looks”). The results indicate the extent to which each examiner varied the duration, pitch, and intensity characteristics of the target verb and the third-person singular -s sound. The variability between the three SLPs and the variability of each individual SLP speaking to different children has important implications for understanding how SLPs may be leveraging their speech production to drive child outcomes in intervention settings.

This research is funded by NIH grant R01 DC019374 awarded to LF.


Explicit-added Language Treatment for Bilingual Children with DLD:  A Single-Case Design Study

Miriam Kornelis; University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Lizbeth Finestack; University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Kerry Ebert; University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Despite the need for evidence-based treatment approaches for bilingual children, few studies have considered grammatical language treatments for this population. This study examined the effectiveness of a grammatical intervention program for Spanish-English bilingual children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) that is designed to be feasible for monolingual providers to deliver. Three 4–8-year-old Spanish-English speaking children with DLD participated in this single-subject nonconcurrent multiple-baseline design study. An explicit-based grammatical intervention, targeting past tense -ed and present tense -s, was adapted to include cross-linguistic connections between Spanish and English, which were pre-recorded to ensure the feasibility of this approach for monolingual providers. Tau-U effect sizes indicated medium effects on both grammatical targets, although visual evidence of a treatment effect is limited. This is the first investigation of an explicit-based language treatment with Spanish-English bilingual children with DLD and provides initial evidence for the effectiveness of this approach. Future investigations will examine whether there is evidence of carryover effects from English to Spanish. Adaptations of this approach should consider the impact of target verb difficulty on the acquisition of the targeted grammatical forms.


Racial Identity Perception, Social Affiliation, and Sentence Repetition in Children

HaeJi Lee; University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Elizabeth Ancel; University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Benjamin Munson; University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) often use sentence repetition (SR) tasks to screen for childhood communication problems like developmental language disorders (DLD). SLPs produce sentences and ask a child to repeat them verbatim. This task taps into children’s ability to hear, understand, process, and recall the information accurately. However, the influence of sociolinguistic factors on SR performances in children are unexplored. This study examined two sociolinguistic factors on SR: the racial identity of the person producing the sentences and the children’s perception of social affiliation with the person being repeated. Social affiliation was assessed by asking children a series of questions about their perceived social proximity to the talkers. Three- to eight-year-old children (n=135) participated in a SR task in audio-only and audiovisual modalities. Three talkers with different racial identities produced the stimuli. Data were collected in a county fair in rural Northern Minnesota and the Minnesota State Fair in the Twin Cities. Data analyses are ongoing. Preliminary analyses show expected developmental trends, and large differences in accuracy across the three talkers.

This research is funded by an internal funding source.


Language-related brain function in developmental language disorder: A preliminary study

Caroline Larson; University of Missouri
Hannah R. Thomas; of Connecticut
Jason Crutcher; University of Connecticut
Michael C. Stevens; Yale University School of Medicine

Rationale. Although behavioral language deficits are well characterized and there is longstanding evidence of a neural basis of developmental language disorder (DLD), neural mechanisms underlying language processing are insufficiently characterized. This preliminary study examined language-related neural function in DLD relative to neurotypical peers (NT).

Methods. Participants were individuals with DLD (n = 5) and age-matched NT peers (n = 12; mean age = 17 years). We administered a validated language task during functional magnetic resonance imaging to elicit language-related neural activation, and we administered standardized language and cognitive assessments.

Results. At a medium effect size for the DLD versus NT group contrast, the DLD group presented with hypo-activation in left and right hemisphere Broca’s complex and posterior temporal regions, and hyper-activation in left and right hemisphere anterior temporal regions.

Conclusions. This preliminary study demonstrates mixed patterns of activation in left hemisphere language-related neural regions and right hemisphere homologue regions in DLD relative to NT peers. These findings suggest the possibility of widespread differences in brain organization for language in DLD.

IBACS Seed Grant; ASHF New Investigators Research Grant; NIMH R01MH112687-01A1


A longitudinal study of nonword repetition in bilingual typically-developing children and children with Developmental Language Disorder

Melissa Kluglein; University of Rhode Island
Alisa Baron; University of Rhode Island
Vanessa Harwood; University of Rhode Island
Connie Summers; Brigham Young University
Lisa Bedore; Temple University
Elizabeth Peña; University of California, Irvine

Purpose: To investigate nonword repetition (NWR) performance longitudinally in Spanish-English bilingual children with and without Developmental Language Disorder (DLD).

Method: Two hundred and thirty typically-developing (TD) children and 41 children with DLD were followed longitudinally for 2-4 years between kindergarten and fifth grade.

Results: When comparing rates of change between TD and DLD groups (slopes), there was not a statistically-significant difference in either language. Both groups showed improvement in NWR performance over time in English and Spanish. Linear mixed effects models will include ability status, age, age of first exposure to English, percent of current language use, semantics, and morphosyntax.

Implications: A better understanding of how NWR performance changes over time across TD and DLD groups will support future diagnostic accuracy of NWR tasks in bilingual children.

Funding sources: R01 DC007439 & R01 DC010366


Significant differences for MLU calculated using CLAN, SALT, and SUGAR conventions in children with typical language and DLD

Amy Wilder; University of Utah
Sean Redmond; University of Utah

Mean length of utterance (MLU) is the most commonly used language sample measure. However, there is no consensus on how MLU should be calculated for clinical purposes. This study examined different MLU measures from 50-utterance play-based conversational language samples collected on a community-based sample of K-1st grade children (n = 111) with typical language (TL) and developmental language disorder (DLD). MLU was calculated using Computerized Language Analysis (CLAN), Systematic Analysis of Language Transcripts (SALT), and Sampling Utterances and Grammatical Analysis Revised (SUGAR). Results showed statistically significant differences for the three MLU conventions [?2(2)=96.88, p<.001], with absolute differences ranging from (0-3.68), suggesting MLU values calculated using CLAN, SALT, or SUGAR conventions were not interchangeable. ROC curve analysis indicated diagnostic accuracy increased with age for all three MLU measures. The analyses showed similar diagnostic accuracy across the three MLU conventions for ages 5-6, and higher diagnostic accuracy with 7-year-olds for MLUCLAN and MLUSUGAR compared to MLUSALT, suggesting including derivational morphemes and keeping independent conjoined clauses together may increase MLU diagnostic accuracy in older children.

Funding source: NIDCD R01DC011023.


Differential Performance of School-Age Children on Oral Comprehension and Retell across Fictional, Nonfictional Narratives and Expository Passages

Jissel Anaya; University of Virginia
Nahar Albudoor; Ohio State University
Kerry Shea; University of Virginia
Khara Turnbull; University of Virginia
Emily Solari; University of Virginia

This study investigated children’s oral language comprehension and retell performance across three genres of texts: fictional narratives, nonfictional narratives, and expository texts. The research questions examined how age and task type (retell versus comprehension questions) interacted with genre to influence students’ comprehension scores.

The participants were 3,181 students aged 5-10 years old. Students completed an oral language assessment with fictional, nonfictional, and expository passages matched for difficulty level. After each passage, students completed a retell task followed by a set of 8 comprehension questions.

Generalized mixed-effects models examined the effects of age, genre, and task type on test scores. There was a significant three-way interaction, whereby the relation between task type and genre varied by age. For expository texts, students performed similarly on comprehension questions and retells across ages. But for fictional and nonfictional narratives, younger students scored higher on comprehension than retells, while older students had similar scores.

The findings indicate developmental differences in how genre and task demands relate to oral comprehension abilities.

Funding provided by Virginia Department of Education


The efficacy of social skills interventions within a community clinic: Considering the child’s perspective

Theresa Pham; University of Western Ontario; Boomerang Health
Boomerang Health Group; Boomerang Health
Lisa Archibald; University of Western Ontario

Social skills play a pivotal role in children’s lives. However, social differences in some neurodiverse individuals as well as neurotypicals may make everyday social interactions and communication difficult. Social skills interventions have historically been developed to support neurodiverse children in understanding social differences. However, neuro-affirming practices highlight a pressing need to rethink how social skills interventions are evaluated and designed. In partnership with a local clinic, we will conduct a program evaluation to examine the efficacy of two social skills interventions—Conversation Club and Social Skills and Self-Regulation. The groups are offered to both neurodiverse and neurotypical children in grades 4-8. The research is in progress. Outcomes will be measured from both the perspective of the child and parent. Changes will be captured in terms of whether the programs met the child’s initial goals and expectations in addition to learning the specific social skills knowledge taught. Further, the child’s input and feedback will be invaluable in designing future social skills interventions.

Funded by SSHRC Explore Grant.


Expressive and Receptive Grammaticality in Boys with Fragile X Syndrome

Tiffany Chavers Edgar; University of Wisconsin-Madison
Bailey Finch; University of Wisconsin-Madison
Marianne Elmquist; University of Wisconsin-Madison
Audra Sterling; University of Wisconsin-Madison

Males with fragile X syndrome have variable language and behavioral phenotypes. Due to the heterogeneity of the population, there are no clear recommendations for the most accurate language assessment tools for clinicians. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between expressive and receptive grammaticality through administration Test of Early Grammatical Impairment (TEGI) in boys with FXS, and characterize unscorable responses provided by boys with FXS during the administration of the TEGI. Forty-two boys with FXS between the ages of 9 and 18 years were administered the TEGI. A repeated measures correlation will be utilized to determine the relationship between expressive and receptive grammaticality. It is expected that there will be a moderate relationship between expressive and receptive grammaticality. Preliminary findings indicate that participants primarily produced unscorable responses characterized as other verb tenses. Outcomes from this study suggest that assessment context can influence language performance in boys with FXS.

Tiffany Chavers-Edgar: T32 HD007489

Audra Sterling: K23 DC016639, R03 DC011616


Measuring representative language in autistic boys and boys with fragile X syndrome+ autism: A generalizability study.

Marianne Elmquist; University of Wisconsin – Madison
Andrea Ford; University of Cincinnati
Amy Banasik; University of Wisconsin – Madison
Audra Sterling; University of Wisconsin – Madison

Most autistic individuals and individuals with a co-diagnosis of autism and fragile X syndrome (FXS+autism) have communication impairments and benefit from language interventions. To maximize intervention outcomes, we must have representative measures of the communicative behavior of interest. However, there is a lack of outcome measures for these two clinical groups that are representative of an individual’s communicative ability. We conducted a generalizability and decision study on 19 boys with FXS+autism and 18 autistic boys. We measured four variables – lexical diversity, grammatical diversity, talkativeness, and intelligibility – across three language sampling contexts. Implications related to improving language samples to evaluate the efficacy of language intervention will be discussed.

Funding: NIDCD R03 DC011616 (Sterling), NICHD U54 HD090256 (Chang)


Are parents of school-age SLI children valid reporters of their children’s grammatical skills?

Megan Dillon; Vanderbilt University
Jane Eppstein; Vanderbilt University
Johanna Hearn; Vanderbilt University
C. Melanie Schuele; Vanderbilt University

Researchers and clinicians use parent-report scales to gather data about children’s language. Children’s Communication Checklist (CCC-2; Bishop, 2006) is a parent-report instrument for school-age children with 70 items with 10 Scales. The CCC-2 manual provides very limited data to support that CCC-2 parent ratings align with child skills. This study involved secondary analysis of CCC-2 and language sample data collected for an assessment study of children with specific language impairment (SLI; Schneck, 2016) Mothers completed the CCC-2. A researcher (SLP) listened to language samples and completed items which could be scored from language sample data. Scaled scores for the Speech Scale and Syntax Scale were derived for each child by rater. We correlated the scaled scores by Scale across the parent and SLP raters. Parent ratings on Speech strongly correlated (p < .05; r = .89) with SLP ratings, whereas parent ratings on Syntax did not correlate with SLP ratings. Parents overestimated their children’s grammatical skills. Results suggest that parent report of speech behaviors may be valid, whereas the same may not be true for syntax (H325D220072).


Beyond Vocabulary: Defining the Unique Characteristics of Children who are Late-to-Talk and their Families

Meaghan Lewcock; Western University
BJ Cunningham; Western University

Purpose: Differentiating between late talkers who will catch up from those who will exhibit enduring language difficulties is an ongoing challenge for researchers and clinicians alike. This study assesses the language skills of late talkers in greater detail and examines the psychosocial characteristics of this population to contribute to a more precise description of these children. Method: Thirty-three late talkers and their parents participated in a virtual study using online surveys, formal and informal assessment measures administered by SLPs. Correlational and cluster analyses were employed to determine the relationships between psychosocial factors and late talkers’ language skills and to identify possible subgroups. Results: We anticipate that children’s performance will be divided into a minimum of two subgroups: one subgroup of children expected to recover, and one subgroup of children expected to exhibit enduring language difficulties based on weaker performance across language measures. Conclusions: Characterizing the early language and psychosocial profiles of late talkers will assist with clinical decision making and further investigation of this population.

This study is funded by the Western Strategic Support for SSHRC Success Seed Grant.

View previous years’ poster and speaker information in the SRCLD Archive.

SRCLD LogoSupported in part by: NIDCD and NICHD, NIH, R13 DC001677, Margarita Kaushanskaya and Audra Sterling, Principal Investigators

University of Wisconsin-Madison – Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders