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Attentional learning helps language acquisition take shape for atypically developing children, not just children with autism spectrum disorders

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number10
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)3195-3206
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date3/03/15
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The shape bias—generalising labels to same shaped objects—has been linked to attentional learning or referential intent. We explore these origins in children with typical development (TD), autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other developmental disorders (DD). In two conditions, a novel object was presented and either named or described. Children selected another from a shape, colour or texture match. TD children choose the shape match in both conditions, children with DD and ‘high-verbal mental age’ (VMA) children with ASD (language age > 4.6) did so in the name condition and ‘low-VMA’ children with ASD never showed the heuristic. Thus, the shape bias arises from attentional learning in atypically developing children and is delayed in ASD.