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Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder May Learn from Caregiver Verb Input Better in Certain Engagement States


The relation between caregiver follow-in utterances with verbs presented in different states of dyadic engagement and later child expressive verb vocabulary in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) was examined in 29 toddlers with ASD and their caregivers. Caregiver verb input in follow-in utterances presented during higher order supported joint engagement (HSJE) accounted for a significant, large amount of variance in later child verb vocabulary; R2= .26. This relation remained significant when controlling for early verb vocabulary or verb input in lower support engagement states. Other types of talk in follow-in utterances in HSJE did not correlate with later verb vocabulary. These findings are an important step towards identifying interactional contexts that facilitate verb learning in children with ASD.

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This research was funded by National Institute for Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD R01 DC006893) and supported by the National Institute for Child Health and Disorders (NICHD; P30HD15052; P30HD03110), a US Department of Education Preparing the Next Generation of Scholars in Severe Disabilities grant (H325D140077), and a US Department of Education Preparation of Leadership Personnel grant (H325D140087). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health or the US Department of Education.

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MC conceived of the study, participated in the design, video coding, and data analysis, and drafted the manuscript; KB participated in the video coding, helped conceptualize the study, and edited the manuscript; JM participated in the video coding, data analysis, and edited the manuscript; LW recruited participants, collected data, participated in the interpretation of the results, and was a site PI on the grant; PY conceived of the study, recruited participants, collected data, guided data analysis, edited the manuscript, and was the primary PI on the grant. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Madison Cloud Crandall.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Crandall, M.C., Bottema-Beutel, K., McDaniel, J. et al. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder May Learn from Caregiver Verb Input Better in Certain Engagement States. J Autism Dev Disord 49, 3102–3112 (2019).

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