Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Failure to learn from feedback underlies word learning difficulties in toddlers at risk for autism

  • R. BEDFORD (a1), T. GLIGA (a2), K. FRAME (a1), K. HUDRY (a3), S. CHANDLER (a1), M. H. JOHNSON (a2), T. CHARMAN (a1) and THE BASIS TEAM...

Abstract

Children's assignment of novel words to nameless objects, over objects whose names they know (mutual exclusivity; ME) has been described as a driving force for vocabulary acquisition. Despite their ability to use ME to fast-map words (Preissler & Carey, 2005), children with autism show impaired language acquisition. We aimed to address this puzzle by building on studies showing that correct referent selection using ME does not lead to word learning unless ostensive feedback is provided on the child's object choice (Horst & Samuelson, 2008). We found that although toddlers aged 2;0 at risk for autism can use ME to choose the correct referent of a word, they do not benefit from feedback for long-term retention of the word–object mapping. Further, their difficulty using feedback is associated with their smaller receptive vocabularies. We propose that difficulties learning from social feedback, not lexical principles, limits vocabulary building during development in children at risk for autism.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Failure to learn from feedback underlies word learning difficulties in toddlers at risk for autism
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Failure to learn from feedback underlies word learning difficulties in toddlers at risk for autism
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Failure to learn from feedback underlies word learning difficulties in toddlers at risk for autism
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

The online version of this article is published within an Open Access environment subject to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence . The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.

Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Rachael Bedford, Centre for Research in Autism and Education, Department of Psychology and Human Development, Institute of Education, 25 Woburn Square, London, WC1H 0AA, London, UK. e-mail: r.bedford@ioe.ac.uk

References

Hide All
Baron-Cohen, S., Baldwin, D. A. & Crowson, M. (1997). Do children with autism use the speaker's direction of gaze strategy to crack the code of language? Child Development 68(1), 4857.
Bolton, P., Macdonald, H., Pickles, A., Rios, P., Goode, S., Crowson, M., et al. (1994). A case-control family history study of autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 35(5), 877900.
Carey, S. & Bartlett, E. (1978). Acquiring a single new word. Paper presented at the Stanford Child Language Conference.
Charman, T., Drew, A., Baird, C. & Baird, G. (2003). Measuring early language development in preschool children with autism spectrum disorder using the MacArthur Communicative Development Inventory (Infant Form). Journal of Child Language 30(1), 213–36.
Constantino, J. N., Zhang, Y., Frazier, T., Abbacchi, A. M. & Law, P. (2010). Sibling recurrence and the genetic epidemiology of autism. American Journal of Psychiatry 167, 1349–56.
Dale, P. S. & Fenson, L. (1996). Lexical development norms for young children. Behavioral Research Methods, Instruments, & Computers 28, 125–27.
Davidson, D., Jergovic, D., Imami, Z. & Theodos, V. (1997). Monolingual and bilingual children's use of the mutual exclusivity constraint. Journal of Child Language 24(1), 324.
de Marchena, A., Eigsti, I. M., Worek, A., Ono, K. E. & Snedeker, J. (2011). Mutual exclusivity in autism spectrum disorders: Testing the pragmatic hypothesis. Cognition 119(1), 96113.
Dichter, G. S., Radonovich, K. J., Turner-Brown, L. M., Lam, K. S., Holtzclaw, T. N. & Bodfish, J. W. (2009). Performance of children with autism spectrum disorders on the dimension-change card sort task. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 40(4), 448–56.
Eigsti, I-M, de Marchena, A. B., Schuh, J. M. and Kelley, E. (2011). Language acquisition in autism spectrum disorders: A developmental review. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders 5, 681–91.
Fenson, L., Dale, P. S., Reznick, J. S., Thal, D., Bates, E., Hartung, J. P., et al. (1993). MacArthur Communicative Development Inventories. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.
Fletcher-Watson, S., Leekam, S. R., Benson, V., Frank, M. C. & Findlay, J. M. (2009). Eye-movements reveal attention to social information in autism spectrum disorder. Neuropsychologia 47(1), 248–57.
Fombonne, E. (2003). Epidemiological surveys of autism and other pervasive developmental disorders: An update. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 33(4), 365–82.
Gliga, T., Elsabbagh, M., Hudry, K., Charman, T. & Johnson, M. & the BASIS Team (in press). Gaze-following, gaze reading and word learning in children at-risk for autism. Child Development.
Goldstein, G., Johnson, C. R. & Minshew, N. J. (2001). Attentional processes in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 31(4), 433–40.
Goodman, R., Ford, T., Richards, H., Gatward, R. & Meltzer, J. (2000). The Development and Well-Being Assessment: Description and initial validation of an integrated assessment of child and adolescent psychopathology. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 41, (5), 645–55.
Halberda, J. (2003). The development of a word-learning strategy. Cognition 87(1), B2334.
Hollich, G. J., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R. M., Brand, R. J., Brown, E., Chung, H. L., et al. (2000). Breaking the language barrier: An emergentist coalition model for the origins of word learning. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development 65(3).
Horst, J. S. & Samuelson, L. K. (2008). Fast mapping but poor retention by 24-month-old infants. Infancy 13(2), 128–57.
Horst, J. S., Scott, E. J. & Pollard, J. A. (2010). The role of competition in word learning via referent selection. Developmental Science 13(5), 706713.
Houston-Price, C., Plunkett, K. & Duffy, H. (2006). The use of social and salience cues in early word learning. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 95(1), 2755.
Hudry, K., Leadbitter, K., Temple, K., Slonims, V., McConachie, H., Aldred, C., et al. (2010). Preschoolers with autism show greater impairment in receptive compared with expressive language abilities. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders 45(6), 681–90.
Kang, S. H., Pashler, H., Cepeda, N. J., Rohrer, D., Carpenter, S. K. & Mozer, M. C. (2011). Does incorrect guessing impair fact learning? Journal of Educational Psychology 103(1), 4859.
Kleinhans, N., Akshoomoff, N. & Delis, D. C. (2005). Executive functions in autism and Asperger's disorder: Flexibility, fluency, and inhibition. Developmental Neuropsychology 27(3), 379401.
Leekam, S. R. & Ramsden, C. A. (2006). Dyadic orienting and joint attention in preschool children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 36(2), 185–97.
Lord, C., Risi, S., Lambrecht, L., Cook, E. H. Jr., Leventhal, B. L., DiLavore, P. C., et al. (2000). The autism diagnostic observation schedule-generic: A standard measure of social and communication deficits associated with the spectrum of autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 30(3), 205223.
Lord, C., Rutter, M. L. & LeCouteur, A. (1994). The autism diagnostic interview-revised: A revised version of a diagnostic interview for caregivers of individuals with possible pervasive developmental disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 24, 659–85.
Markman, E. M. (1991). The whole-object, taxonomic, and mutual exclusivity assumptions as initial constraints on word meanings. In Gelman, S. A. & Byrnes, P. (eds), Perspectives on language and thought: Interrelations in development, 72106. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Markman, E. M. & Wachtel, G. F. (1988). Children's use of mutual exclusivity to constrain the meanings of words. Cognitive Psychology 20(2), 121–57.
Markman, E. M., Wasow, J. L. & Hansen, M. B. (2003). Use of the mutual exclusivity assumption by young word learners. Cognitive Psychology 47(3), 241–75.
Mather, E. & Plunkett, K. (2010). Novel labels support 10-month-olds' attention to novel objects. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 105, (3), 232–42.
Mather, E. & Plunkett, K. (2011). Mutual exclusivity and phonological novelty constrain word learning at 16 months. Journal of Child Language 38(5), 933–50.
McMurray, B. (2007). Defusing the childhood vocabulary explosion. Science 317(5838), 631.
Merriman, W. E. & Schuster, J. M. (1991). Young children's disambiguation of object name reference. Child Development 62(6), 1288–301.
Mullen, E. M. (1995). Mullen Scales of Early Learning (AGS edn). Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service Inc.
Ozonoff, S., Rogers, S. J., Farnham, J. M. & Pennington, B. F. (1993). Can standard measures identify subclinical markers of autism? Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 23(3), 429–41.
Parish-Morris, J., Hennon, E. A., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R. M. & Tager-Flusberg, H. (2007). Children with autism illuminate the role of social intention in word learning. Child Development 78(4), 1265–87.
Piven, J., Palmer, P., Landa, R., Santangelo, S., Jacobi, D. & Childress, D. (1997). Personality and language characteristics in parents from multiple-incidence autism families. American Journal of Medical Genetics 74, 398411.
Poljac, E., Simon, S., Ringlever, L., Kalcik, D., Groen, W. B., Buitelaar, J. K., et al. (2010). Impaired task switching performance in children with dyslexia but not in children with autism. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology (Colchester) 63, (2), 401416.
Preissler, M. A. & Carey, S. (2005). The role of inferences about referential intent in word learning: Evidence from autism. Cognition 97(1), B1323.
Quine, W. V. O. (1960). Word and Object. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Rogers, S. J. (2009). What are infant siblings teaching us about autism in infancy? Autism Research 2(3), 125–37.
Rutter, M., Bailey, A. & Lord, C. (2003). SCQ: The Social Communication Questionnaire. Manual. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.
Tager-Flusberg, H., Paul, R. & Lord, C. E. (2005). Language and communication in autism. In Volkmar, F., Paul, R., Klin, A. & Cohen, D. J. (eds), Handbook of autism and pervasive developmental disorder, 3rd edn, vol. 1, 335–64. New York: Wiley.
Tek, S., Jaffery, G., Fein, D. and Naigles, L. R. (2008). Do children with autism spectrum disorders show a shape bias in word learning? Autism Research 1, 208222.
Toth, K., Dawson, G., Meltzoff, A. N., Greenson, J. & Fein, D. (2007). Early social, imitation, play, and language abilities of young non-autistic siblings of children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 37(1), 145–57.
World Health Organisation (WHO) (1993). Mental disorders: A glossary and guide to their classification in accordance with the 10th revision of the international classification of diseases: Research diagnostic criteria (ICD-10). Geneva: WHO.
Woodward, A. L. & Hoyne, K. L. (1999). Infants' learning about words and sounds in relation to objects. Child Development 70(1), 6577.
Yirmiya, N., Gamliel, I., Pilowsky, T., Feldman, R., Baron-Cohen, S. & Sigman, M. (2006). The development of siblings of children with autism at 4 and 14 months: Social engagement, communication, and cognition. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 47(5), 511–23.
Yirmiya, N., Gamliel, I., Shaked, M. & Sigman, M. (2007). Cognitive and verbal abilities of 24- to 36-month-old siblings of children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 37(2), 218–29.

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed