Quantitative and qualitative characteristics of the school and home language environments of preschool-aged children with ASD

Sloane Burgess, Lisa Audet, Sanna Harjusola-Webb
Journal of Communication Disorders 2013, 46 (5): 428-39

UNLABELLED: The purpose of this research was to begin to characterize and compare the school and home language environments of 10 preschool-aged children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Naturalistic language samples were collected from each child, utilizing Language ENvironment Analysis (LENA) digital voice recorder technology, at 3-month intervals over the course of one year. LENA software was used to identify 15-min segments of each sample that represented the highest number of adult words used during interactions with each child for all school and home language samples. Selected segments were transcribed and analyzed using Systematic Analysis of Language Transcripts (SALT). LENA data was utilized to evaluate quantitative characteristics of the school and home language environments and SALT data was utilized to evaluate quantitative and qualitative characteristics of language environment. Results revealed many similarities in home and school language environments including the degree of semantic richness, and complexity of adult language, types of utterances, and pragmatic functions of utterances used by adults during interactions with child participants. Study implications and recommendations for future research are discussed.

LEARNING OUTCOMES: The reader will be able to, (1) describe how two language sampling technologies can be utilized together to collect and analyze language samples, (2) describe characteristics of the school and home language environments of young children with ASD, and (3) identify environmental factors that may lead to more positive expressive language outcomes of young children with ASD.

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