Purpose

There is considerable controversy regarding whether to use telegraphic or grammatical input when speaking to young children with language delays, including children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study examined telegraphic speech use in parents of preschoolers with ASD and associations with children's spoken language 1 year later.

Method

Parent–child dyads (n = 55) participated when children were, on average, 3 (Time 1) and 4 years old (Time 2). The rate at which parents omitted obligatory determiners was derived from transcripts of parent–child play sessions; measures of children's spoken language were obtained from these same transcripts.

Results

Telegraphic speech use varied substantially across parents. Higher rates of parent determiner omissions at Time 1 were significantly associated with lower lexical diversity in children's spoken language at Time 2, even when controlling for children's baseline lexical diversity and nonverbal IQ. Findings from path analyses supported the directionality of effects assumed in our regression analyses, although these results should be interpreted with caution due to the limited sample size.

Conclusions

Telegraphic input may have a negative impact on language development in young children with ASD. Future experimental research is needed to directly investigate how telegraphic input affects children's language learning and processing.

References

  • Bedore, L. M., & Leonard, L. B. (1995). Prosodic and syntactic bootstrapping and their clinical applications: A tutorial.American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 4(1), 66–72.
  • Bishop, S. L., Guthrie, W., Coffing, M., & Lord, C. (2011). Convergent validity of the Mullen Scales of Early Learning and the Differential Ability Scales in children with autism spectrum disorders.American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 116(5), 331–343. doi:10.1352/1944-7558-116.5.331
  • Bredin-Oja, S. L., & Fey, M. E. (2014). Children's responses to telegraphic and grammatically complete prompts to imitate.American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 23(February), 15–26. http://doi.org/10.1044/1058-0360(2013/12-0155)
  • Brown, R. (1973). A first language, the early stages. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Brown, R. W. (1957). Linguistic determinism and the part of speech.Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 55(1), 1–5.
  • Cohen, J. (1960). A coefficient of agreement for nominal scales.Educational and Psychological Measurement, 20, 37–46.
  • Condouris, K., Meyer, E., & Tager-Flusberg, H. (2003). The relationship between standardized measures of language and measures of spontaneous speech in children with autism.American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 12(3), 349–358. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2003/080)
  • Dollaghan, C. A. (2007). The handbook for evidence-based practice in communication disorders. Baltimore, MD: Brookes.
  • Eigsti, I.-M., Bennetto, L., & Dadlani, M. B. (2007). Beyond pragmatics: Morphosyntactic development in autism.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37(6), 1007–1023. doi:10.1007/s10803-006-0239-2
  • Ellis Weismer, S. (2000). Intervention for children with developmental language delay.In D. Bishop & L. Leonard (Eds.), Speech and language impairments in children: Causes, characteristics, intervention, and outcome (pp. 157–176). New York, NY: Psychology Press.
  • Evans, J. L., Saffran, J. R., & Robe-Torres, K. (2009). Statistical learning in children with specific language impairment.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 52(2), 321–335. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/07-0189)
  • Fernald, A., & Hurtado, N. (2006). Names in frames: Infants interpret words in sentence frames faster than words in isolation.Developmental Science, 9(3), F33–F40. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7687.2006.00482.x.Names
  • Fey, M. E. (2008). The (mis-)use of telegraphic input in child language intervention.Revista de Logopedia, Foniatría y Audiología, 28(4), 218–230. doi:10.1016/S0214-4603(08)70129-3
  • Fey, M. E., Long, S. H., & Finestack, L. H. (2003). Ten principles of grammar facilitation for children with specific language impairments.American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 12(1), 3–15. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2003/048)
  • Fraser, W. (1972). Modifications of language situations in an institution for profoundly retarded children.Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 14, 148–155. doi:10.1111/j.1469-8749.1972.tb02572.x
  • Gelman, S., & Taylor, M. (1984). How two-year-old children interpret proper and common names for unfamiliar objects.Child Development, 55, 1535–1540.
  • Gleitman, L. (1990). The structural sources of verb meanings.Language Acquisition, 1(1), 3–55.
  • Goodwin, A., Fein, D., & Naigles, L. R. (2012). Comprehension of wh-questions precedes their production in typical development and autism spectrum disorders.Autism Research, 5(2), 109–123. doi:10.1002/aur.1220
  • Guo, L.-Y., & Eisenberg, S. (2015). Sample length affects the reliability of language sample measures in three-year-olds: Evidence from parent-elicited conversational samples.Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 46, 141–153. doi:10.1044/2015_LSHSS-14-0052
  • Hancock, T. B., & Kaiser, A. P. (2006). Enhanced milieu teaching.In R. J. McCauley & M. E. Fey (Eds.), Treatment of language disorders in children (pp. 203–236). Baltimore, MD: Brookes.
  • Hani, H. B., Gonzalez-Barrero, A. M., & Nadig, A. S. (2012). Children's referential understanding of novel words and parent labeling behaviors: Similarities across children with and without autism spectrum disorders.Journal of Child Language, 40(5), 1–32. doi:10.1017/S0305000912000426
  • Heilmann, J., Nockerts, A., & Miller, J. F. (2010). Language sampling: Does the length of the transcript matter?.Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 41(4), 393–404. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2009/09-0023)
  • Hoff, E., & Naigles, L. (2002). How children use input to acquire a lexicon.Child Development, 73(2), 418–433. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11949900
  • Huttenlocher, J., Vasilyeva, M., Cymerman, E., & Levine, S. (2002). Language input and child syntax.Cognitive Psychology, 45(3), 337–374. doi:10.1016/S0010-0285(02)00500-5
  • Huttenlocher, J., Waterfall, H., Vasilyeva, M., Vevea, J., & Hedges, L. V. (2010). Sources of variability in children's language growth.Cognitive Psychology, 61(4), 343–365. doi:10.1016/j.cogpsych.2010.08.002
  • Jones, J. K. (1978). The responses of severely retarded children to telegraphic and well-formed command differing only by the presence of an article. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh.
  • Katz, N., Baker, E., & Macnamara, J. (1974). What's in a name? A study of how children learn common and proper names.Child Development, 45(2), 469–473.
  • Kedar, Y., Casasola, M., & Lust, B. (2006). Getting there faster: 18- and 24-month-old infants' use of function words to determine reference.Child Development, 77(2), 325–338.
  • Kover, S. T., Davidson, M. M., Sindberg, H. A., & Ellis Weismer, S. (2014). Use of the ADOS for assessing spontaneous expressive language in young children with ASD: A comparison of sampling contexts.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 57, 2221–2233. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-L-13-0330
  • Landis, J., & Koch, G. (1977). The measurement of observer agreement for categorical data.Biometrics, 33(1), 159–174. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2529310
  • Lany, J., & Saffran, J. R. (2010). From statistics to meaning: Infants' acquisition of lexical categories.Psychological Science, 21(2), 284–291. doi:10.1177/0956797609358570
  • Leaf, R., & McEachin, J. (1999). A work in progress: Behavior management strategies and a curriculum for intensive behavioral treatment of autism. New York, NY: DRL Books LLC.
  • Lew-Williams, C., & Fernald, A. (2007). Young children learning Spanish make rapid use of grammatical gender in spoken word recognition.Psychological Science, 18(3), 193–198. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01871.x
  • Lord, C., & Bishop, S. L. (2010). Social policy report: Autism spectrum disorders. Diagnosis, prevalence, and services for children and families.Society for Research in Child Development: Sharing Child and Youth Development Knowledge, 24(2), 1–27.
  • Lord, C., Rutter, M., DiLavore, P. C., & Risi, S. (2002). Autism diagnostic observation schedule: ADOS. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.
  • Lovaas, I. (1981). Teaching developmentally disabled children: The ME book. Baltimore, MD: University Park Press.
  • Lovaas, I. (2003). Teaching individuals with developmental delays: Basic intervention techniques. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.
  • Luyster, R., Gotham, K., Guthrie, W., Coffing, M., Petrak, R., Pierce, K., … Lord, C. (2009). The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule—Toddler Module: A new module of a standardized diagnostic measure for autism spectrum disorders.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39(9), 1305–1320.
  • Maurice, C. E., Green, G. E., & Luce, S. C. (1996). Behavioral intervention for young children with autism: A manual for parents and processionals. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.
  • Mayo, J., & Eigsti, I.-M. (2012). Brief report: A comparison of statistical learning in school-aged children with high functioning autism and typically developing peers.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42(11), 2476–2485. doi:10.1007/s10803-012-1493-0
  • McGregor, K. K., Berns, A. J., Owen, A. J., Michels, S. A., Duff, D., Bahnsen, A. J., & Lloyd, M. (2011). Associations between syntax and the lexicon among children with or without ASD and language impairment.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42(1), 35–47. http://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-011-1210-4
  • Miller, J. F., Andriacchi, K., & Nockerts, A. (2011). Systematic analysis of language transcripts. Madison, WI: SALT Software.
  • Mintz, T. H. (2003). Frequent frames as a cue for grammatical categories in child directed speech.Cognition, 90(1), 91–117. doi:10.1016/S0010-0277(03)00140-9
  • Mintz, T. H., Newport, E. L., & Bever, T. G. (2002). The distributional structure of grammatical categories in speech to young children.Cognitive Science, 26(4), 393–424. doi:10.1207/s15516709cog2604_1
  • Mullen, E. M. (1995). Mullen scales of early learning manual. Minneapolis, MN: AGS Edition.
  • Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. (2012). Mplus. Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén.
  • Naigles, L. R., Kelty, E., Jaffery, R., & Fein, D. (2011). Abstractness and continuity in the syntactic development of young children with autism.Autism Research, 4(6), 422–437. doi:10.1002/aur.223
  • Odom, S. L., Boyd, B. A., Hall, L. J., & Hume, K. (2010). Evaluation of comprehensive treatment models for individuals with autism spectrum disorders.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40(4), 425–436. doi:10.1007/s10803-009-0825-1
  • Plunkett, K., Munakata, Y., & Johnson, M. (2006). Learning how to be flexible with words.Attention and Performance, 21, 233–248.
  • Rutter, M., LeCouteur, A., & Lord, C. (2003). Autism diagnostic interview-revised. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Service.
  • Saffran, J. R., Newport, E. L., Aslin, R. N., Tunick, R. A., & Barrueco, S. (1997). Incidental language learning: Listening (and learning) out of the corner of your ear.Psychological Science, 8(2), 101–105.
  • Sameroff, A. J. (2009). The transactional model of development: How children and contexts shape each other. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Shulman, C., & Guberman, A. (2007). Acquisition of verb meaning through syntactic cues: A comparison of children with autism, children with specific language impairment (SLI) and children with typical language development (TLD).Journal of Child Language, 34, 411–423. doi:10.1017/S0305000906007963
  • Siegel, B. (2003). Helping children with autism learn. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Sundberg, M. L., & Partington, J. W. (1998). Teaching language to children with autism or other developmental disabilities. Pleasant Hill, CA: Behavior Analysts, Inc.
  • Sussman, F. (1999). More than words: Helping parents promote communication and social skills in children with autism spectrum disorder. Toronto, Canada: The Hanen Centre.
  • Tager-Flusberg, H., & Kasari, C. (2013). Minimally verbal school-aged children with autism spectrum disorder: The neglected end of the spectrum.Autism Research, 6(6), 1–11. doi:10.1002/aur.1329
  • Tager-Flusberg, H., Rogers, S., Cooper, J., Landa, R., Lord, C., Paul, R., … Yoder, P. (2009). Defining spoken language benchmarks and selecting measures of expressive language development for young children with autism spectrum disorders.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 52, 1–13. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/08-0136)
  • Thorpe, K., & Fernald, A. (2006). Knowing what a novel word is not: Two-year-olds “listen through” ambiguous adjectives in fluent speech.Cognition, 100(3), 389–433. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2005.04.009
  • Trehub, S. E., & Shenfield, T. (2007). Acquisition of early words from single-word and sentential contexts.Developmental Science, 10(2), 190–198. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7687.2007.00545.x
  • Van Kleeck, A., Schwarz, A. L., Fey, M., Kaiser, A., & Weitzman, E. (2010). Should we use telegraphic or grammatical input in the early stages of language development with children who have language impairments? A meta-analysis of the research and expert opinion.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 19, 3–22.
  • Venker, C. E., Eernisse, E. R., Saffran, J. R., & Ellis Weismer, S. (2013). Individual differences in the real-time comprehension of children with ASD.Autism Research, 6(5), 417–432. doi:10.1002/aur.1304
  • Willer, B. (1974). Reduced versus nonreduced models in language training of MR children.Journal of Communication Disorders, 7(4), 343–355.
  • Wolfe, D. L., & Heilmann, J. (2010). Simplified and expanded input in a focused stimulation program for a child with expressive language delay (ELD).Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 26(3), 335–346. doi:10.1177/0265659010369286

Additional Resources