Research by Topic: Language

Infant motor issues and later autism diagnosis

Published July 1, 2019 in ASF Podcast

Everyone knows the way to study infants with autism is through thorough testing of younger siblings of those with a diagnosis, who have a 15x greater chance of have a diagnosis themselves.   Through these methods, new ways of identifying and predicting autism  later on have been developed.  On this week’s podcast:   two very […]

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Podcast: New science for those with little or no language

Published January 23, 2017

Even though more than 20% of people with autism have little or no language, research into ways to help this group have really been lacking. Several efforts to not just understand the abilities and disabilities of this group started a few years ago and we are just starting to hear about what works and what […]

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Help for people with minimal language

Published March 16, 2016

About 25-30% of children with autism show language impairment or no language at all, and these families often use assisted communication devices like picture exchange to help their children communicate.  Recently, electronic communication devices like the iPad have revolutionized the way that people communicate, but little research has been done on how and if they […]

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iPads Help Late-Speaking Children with Autism Develop Language

Published November 12, 2013 in Vanderbilt University

New research out of Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development found that using speech-generating devices, such as iPads, to encourage children ages 5 to 8 to develop speaking skills resulted in the subjects developing considerably more spoken words compared to other interventions. All of the children in the study learned new spoken words and several learned to produce short sentences as they moved through the training.

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Genetic Link Between Family Members with Autism and Language Impairment

Published October 30, 2013 in American Journal of Psychiatry

New research shows a genetic link between individuals with autism and family members with specific speech and language difficulties otherwise unexplained by cognitive or physical problems. Researchers discovered that genes in a small region of two chromosomes can lead to one family member developing autism and another family member only developing language impairment.

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Predictors of Phrase and Fluent Speech in Children With Autism and Severe Language Delay

Published March 4, 2013 in Pediatrics

Researchers at Kennedy Krieger examined prevalence and predictors of language attainment in severely language-delayed children with ASD. 70% of the sample attained phrase speech and 47% attained fluent speech at or after age 4, indicating that later gains in language are likely in toddlers with severely delayed language. Children with high nonverbal intelligence and high levels of social interest and engagement were most likely to attain language. ASD-related features such as repetitive and sensory behaviors were not associated with language attainment.

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Age of First Words Predicts Cognitive Ability and Adaptive Skills in Children with ASD

Published February 1, 2013 in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

Producing words by 2 years of age strongly predicted better outcomes in this study of language acquisition and later functioning in children with ASD. The authors suggest that the “acquiring useful language by age 5” criterion for positive prognosis can be updated.

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Familiarity Breeds Support: Speech-language Pathologists Perceptions of Bullying of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published January 31, 2013 in Journal of Communication Disorders

According to this study, school-based speech language pathologists may be an untapped resource in the fight against bullying of children with ASD.

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Portable Intermodal Preferential Looking (IPL): Investigating Language Comprehension in Typically Developing Toddlers and Young Children with Autism.

Published December 14, 2012 in PubMed

Researchers at UCONN have developed an intermodel preferential looking assessment that relies on the child’s attention, rather than verbal or gestural responses, to evaluate language comprehension.

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Autism Developmental Delay Begins After 6 Months of Age

Published October 31, 2012 in Psych Central

A large, prospective study found that children with and without ASD were developmentally similar at 6 months based on clinical tests. Lead author Dr. Rebecca Landa reported, for those children who went on to develop autism, the earliest signs of atypical development were non-specific to autism, such as general communication or motor delay.

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Is He Being Bad? Social and Language Brain Networks during Social Judgment in Children with Autism

Published October 17, 2012 in PLOS One

This fMRI study on social judgment supports claims that autistic children may recognize socially inappropriate behavior but find it difficult to express why its inappropriate.

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Differences in Autism Symptoms Between Minority and Non-Minority Toddlers

Published September 1, 2012 in Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

Researchers discover gross motor, communication and language score differences between minority and non-minority toddlers with ASD. The authors suggest that due to cultural differences, minority parents may not seek intervention services until more significant delays are present. Methods to improve early identification in these groups are discussed.

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Impaired Language Pathways in Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Patients with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published June 1, 2012 in Cerebral Cortex

“The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between language pathways and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) in patients with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). “

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Atypical Audiovisual Speech Integration In Infants At Risk For Autism

Published May 15, 2012 in PLOS One

“The language difficulties often seen in individuals with autism might stem from an inability to integrate audiovisual information, a skill important for language development. We investigated whether 9-month-old siblings of older children with autism, who are at an increased risk of developing autism, are able to integrate audiovisual speech cues.”

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Atypical Brain Activation Patterns During a Face-to-Face Joint Attention Game in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Published April 16, 2012 in Human Brain Mapping

Researchers used fMRI while participants played a joint-attention game to better understand the neural correlates of joint attention.

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Minority Toddlers With Autism May Be More Delayed Than Affected Caucasian Peers

Published February 23, 2012 in Medical News Today

The first prospective study of ethnic differences in the symptoms of autism in toddlers shows that children from a minority background have more delayed language, communication and gross motor skills than Caucasian children with the disorder. Researchers at the Kennedy Krieger Institute concluded that subtle developmental delays may be going unaddressed in minority toddlers until more severe symptoms develop.

Minority Toddlers With Autism May Be More Delayed Than Affected Caucasian Peers

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Structure of language pathways differs in non-verbal autism

Published November 14, 2011 in SFARI

Non-verbal children with autism show structural differences in key language areas of the brain compared with controls, according to a poster presented Saturday at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

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Autistic Brains Grow More Slowly

Published October 20, 2011 in Psych Central

UCLA researchers have found the connections between brain regions that are important for language and social skills grow much more slowly in boys with autism than in non-autistic children…


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A Systematic Review of Early Intensive Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published April 1, 2011 in Pediatrics

Researchers at Vanderbilt University reviewed the effectiveness of early intervention programs for children aged 12 and younger with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Overall, the strength of the evidence ranged from insufficient to low. Studies performed at the University of California Los Angeles /Lovaas-based interventions and variants reported clinically significant gains in language and cognitive skills […]

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A Systematic Review of Secretin for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published April 1, 2011 in Pediatrics

Krishnaswami et al. Researchers at Vanderbilt University found that secretin, a medical treatment for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) that was popularized in the 1990s, is ineffective in the treatment of ASDs. Evidence from seven randomized controlled trials suggests that secretin does not effectively treat the symptoms of ASDs, which include language and communication impairment, symptom […]

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New Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised Algorithms for Toddlers and Young Preschoolers from 12 to 47 Months of Age

Published March 1, 2011 in J Autism Developmental Disorders, Kim et al.

The Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised is a tool clinician’s use for the diagnosis of a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The diagnostic algorithms of the evaluative tool were altered to improve sensitivity and specificity compared to the previous algorithm.

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Surprising View of Brain Formation: Discovery of a New Mechanism May Have Implications for a Host of Diseases

Published February 10, 2011 in Science Daily

A study from The Scripps Research Institute has unveiled a surprising mechanism that controls brain formation. In the new study, Mueller and colleagues focused on a protein called reelin. They found reelin is a key player in the migration of new nerve cells to the neocortex, the part of the brain responsible for higher-order functions, such as language and movement. The findings have implications for understanding a host of diseases, including some forms of mental retardation, epilepsy, schizophrenia, and autism.

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Toddlers With Autism Show Improved Social Skills Following Targeted Intervention

Published December 9, 2010 in Science Daily

Targeting the core social deficits of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in early intervention programs yielded sustained improvements in social and communication skills even in very young children who have ASD, according to a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health.

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Gene Discovery Supports Link Between Handedness And Language-Related Disorders

Published November 8, 2010 in Medical News Today

Scientists at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, have identified a genetic variant which influences whether a person with dyslexia is more skilled with either the left or right hand. The finding identifies a novel gene for handedness and provides the first genetic evidence to support a much speculated link between handedness and a language-related disorder.

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Language Delays Found in Siblings of Children with Autism

Published October 3, 2010 in Medical News Today

A new study, led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, found mild traits, not strong enough to provoke a diagnosis of autism, seem to be present in the siblings of affected children at significantly higher rates than seen in the general population. Siblings of children with autism have more frequent language delays and other subtle characteristics of the disorder than previously understood. Girls also may be mildly affected more often than recognized in the past.

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Minocycline Promising in Fragile X Syndrome

Published September 7, 2010 in Medscape Today

Parents of children with fragile X syndrome report that minocycline led to positive improvements in language, attention levels and behavior. They also report experiencing adverse side effects such as mild gastrointestinal issues and some increased irritability.

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Language as a Window into Sociability

Published August 13, 2010 in Science Daily

People with Williams syndrome-known for their indiscriminate friendliness and ease with strangers-process spoken language differently from people with autism spectrum disorders-characterized by social withdrawal and isolation-found researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

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New Technology Reveals a Unique Vocal Signature in Autism

Published July 20, 2010 in Medical News Today

Study reports new automated vocal analysis technology could fundamentally change the study of language development as well as the screening for autism spectrum disorders and language delay.

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New Analysis Reveals Clearer Picture of Brain’s Language Areas

Published May 23, 2010 in Science Daily

Language is a defining aspect of what makes us human. Although some brain regions are known to be associated with language, neuroscientists have had a surprisingly difficult time using brain imaging technology to understand exactly what these ‘language areas’ are doing. In a new study published in the Journal of Neurophysiology, MIT neuroscientists report on a new method to analyze brain imaging data — one that may paint a clearer picture of how our brain produces and understands language.

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Language Dysfunction in Children May Be Due to Epilectic Brain Activity

Published April 23, 2010 in Science Daily

Epileptic activity in the brain can affect language development in children, and EEG registrations should therefore be carried out more frequently on children with severe language impairment to identify more readily those who may need medical treatment, reveals a thesis from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg.

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Intensive Treatment Found To Be Highly Effective

Published April 6, 2010 in Newswise

Results of a randomized clinical trial found an innovative multi-component summer social development program to be effective in improving the social performance of children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders.

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Brain Becomes Tuned to Voices and Emotional Tone of Voice During Pregnancy

Published March 24, 2010 in Science Daily

New research finds that the brains of infants as young as 7 months old demonstrate a sensitivity to the human voice and to emotions communicated through the voice that is remarkably similar to what is observed in the brains of adults.

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Reading Remediation Seems to Rewire the Brain

Published February 26, 2010 in US News & World Report

Scientists studying the anatomy of children’s brains during reading discovered something rather unexpected: Remedial training for poor readers results in a growth of white matter tracts in the brain, and the increase correlates with the level of improvement in sounding out words.

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Music Training Enhances Brainstem Activity to Speech Sounds

Published February 22, 2010 in Science Daily

At a Feb. 20 press briefing held during the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, a Northwestern University neuroscientist argued that music training has profound effects that shape the sensory system and should be a mainstay of K-12 education. Kraus presented her own research and the research of other neuroscientists suggesting music education can be an effective strategy in helping typically developing children as well as children with developmental dyslexia or autism more accurately encode speech.

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Early Intervention for Toddlers With Autism Highly Effective, Study Finds

Published November 30, 2009 in Science Daily

A novel early intervention program for very young children with autism — some as young as 18 months — is effective for improving IQ, language ability and social interaction, a comprehensive new study has found.

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Neuropsychological performance 10 years after immunization in infancy with thimerosal-containing vaccines

Published January 1, 2009 in Pediatrics, Tozzi AE, Bisiacchi P, Tarantino V, De Mei B, D'Elia L, Chariotti F, Salmaso S.

Thimerosal, a mercury compound used as a preservative in vaccines administered during infancy, has been suspected to affect neuropsychological development. We compared the neuropsychological performance, 10 years after vaccination, of 2 groups of children exposed randomly to different amounts of thimerosal through immunization. Children who were enrolled in an efficacy trial of pertussis vaccines in […]

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Linkage, Association, and Gene Expression Analyses Identify CNTNAP2 as an Autism-Susceptibility Gene

Published January 1, 2008 in American Journal of Human Genetics, Alarcon, Abrahams, et al.

Autism is a genetically complex neurodevelopmental syndrome in which language deficits are a core feature. We describe results from two complimentary approaches used to identify risk variants on chromosome 7 that likely contribute to the etiology of autism. A two-stage association study tested 2758 SNPs across a 10 Mb 7q35 language-related autism QTL in AGRE […]

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Infant and Toddler Oral and Manual Motor Skills Predict Later Speech Fluency in Autism

Published November 2, 2007 in Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Gernsbacher, Sauer, et al

Infant and toddler oral-motor and manual-motor skills inter-correlated significantly, distinguished autistic children from typically developing children, and distinguished autistic children whose current-day speech was minimally fluent, moderately fluent, and highly fluent. These results were corroborated by analysis of historical home video and verified with current-day assessment.

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