Behavioral and physiological responses to child-directed speech as predictors of communication outcomes in children with autism spectrum disorders

Linda R. Watson, Grace T. Baranek, Jane E. Roberts, Fabian J. David, Twyla Y. Perryman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: To determine the extent to which behavioral and physiological responses during child-directed speech (CDS) correlate concurrently and predictively with communication skills in young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Method: Twenty-two boys with ASD (initial mean age: 35 months) participated in a longitudinal study. At entry, behavioral (i.e., percentage looking) and physiological (i.e., vagal activity) measures were collected during the presentation of CDS stimuli. A battery of standardized communication measures was administered at entry and readministered 12 months later. Results: Percentage looking during CDS was strongly correlated with all entry and follow-up communication scores; vagal activity during CDS was moderately to strongly correlated with entry receptive language, follow-up expressive language, and social-communicative adaptive skills. After controlling for entry communication skills, vagal activity during CDS accounted for significant variance in follow-up communication skills, but percentage looking during CDS did not. Conclusions: Behavioral and physiological responses to CDS are significantly related to concurrent and later communication skills of children with ASD. Furthermore, higher vagal activity during CDS predicts better communication outcomes 12 months later, after initial communication skills are accounted for. Further research is needed to better understand the physiological mechanisms underlying variable responses to CDS among children with ASD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1052-1064
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Volume53
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2010

Keywords

  • Attention
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Outcomes
  • Preschool children

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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