JOURNAL ARTICLE

Using the Language Environment Analysis (LENA) system in preschool classrooms with children with autism spectrum disorders

Jessica R Dykstra, Maura G Sabatos-Devito, Dwight W Irvin, Brian A Boyd, Kara A Hume, Sam L Odom
Autism: the International Journal of Research and Practice 2013, 17 (5): 582-94
22751753
This study describes the language environment of preschool programs serving children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and examines relationships between child characteristics and an automated measure of adult and child language in the classroom. The Language Environment Analysis (LENA) system was used with 40 children with ASD to collect data on adult and child language. Standardized assessments were administered to obtain language, cognitive, and autism severity scores for participants. With a mean of over 5 hours of recording across two days several months apart, there was a mean of 3.6 child vocalizations per minute, 1.0 conversational turns (in which either the adult or child respond to the other within 5 seconds) per minute, and 29.2 adult words per minute. Two of the three LENA variables were significantly correlated with language age-equivalents. Cognitive age-equivalents were also significantly correlated with two LENA variables. Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule severity scores and LENA variables were not significantly correlated. Implications for using the LENA system with children with ASD in the school environment are discussed.

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