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Predicting and Optimizing Language Outcomes in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (POLO)

What's the study about?

Around 1/3 of autistic children do not develop language beyond a few words or phrases, but we do not know why. The main goals of POLO are to investigate what predicts different patterns of language development in children with autism with special emphasis on understanding differences between minimally verbal and more verbal children.

Who can participate?

  • Children aged 3-6 to 6-11 years old with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder
  • English must be the primary language spoken to the child either at home or at school.


What will participants be doing?

The participants will have three in-person visits to Boston University, each lasting 2-3 hours. Some participants are invited to return to our lab for follow-up two more times over a year. The participants will complete several play-based cognitive and language assessments, motor tasks, and watch fun videos while we record their brain activity using a noninvasive technique: EEG. Parents will complete an interview and several questionnaires about their child’s behavior and development.

Why is this important?

POLO aims to understand variability in autistic children’s language development and identify factors that are important for optimizing language outcomes in them, especially those who are minimally verbal. This knowledge will help identify novel ways to facilitate autistic children’s language and social communication development.

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