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Title: New word learning in young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Author: O'Mahony, Sara
ISNI:       0000 0004 5921 7765
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2015
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At least some children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have sensory processing differences which are likely to impact on speech processing and early language development. There is limited research in this area with the population in this study, i.e., preschool children with ASD and minimal or no language. This study explores the effects of modified speech on fast mapping and learning new words using video modelling, based on evidence in ASD of particular difficulty processing speech in background noise, temporal speech processing and a potential multisensory integration deficit. A case series design with multiple measures was used to compare the impact of modified video modelling with control conditions on learning and fast mapping new words. Video modelling had an overall positive impact on fast mapping and learning new words compared to non-taught control words, but was not superior to live modelling. Artificially slowing speech and background noise had minimal or no effect on taught vocabulary, although this does not preclude effects in natural environments. The atypical effects on fast mapping new words from asynchronous audiovisual presentation was consistent with a multisensory integration deficit in ASD, but the extent to which this supports theories of autism such as an extended multisensory temporal binding window requires further research. Methodological limitations indicate caution generalising findings. There was wide variation in participant performance and profiles, including sensory processing. This suggests the need for detailed assessment of sensory processing alongside other abilities in order to tailor interventions supporting language development to each child’s unique profile. Given evidence of deficits in attention and positive associations between video modelling and attention in this study and the literature, video modelling may be helpful alongside other strategies in supporting young children with ASD fast map or learn new words when they are struggling to do so by other means.
Supervisor: Cunningham, Stuart ; Thomson, Jenny ; Vance, Maggie Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available