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Referent selection in children with Autism Spectrum Condition and intellectual disabilities: Do social cues affect word-to-object or word-to-location mappings?

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

Article number103425
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/08/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Research in Developmental Disabilities
Number of pages11
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date25/06/19
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Bacicground: There is conflicting evidence regarding whether children with Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) and intellectual disabilities (ID) follow social pragmatic cues such as a speaker's eye gaze or pointing towards a novel object to assist mapping a new word onto a new object (e.g. fast mapping).

Aims: We test fast mapping from a speaker's gaze and pointing towards objects in children with ASC and ID with varying chronological and receptive language ages compared with receptive language matched groups of typically developing (TD) children.

Methods and Procedure: Across eight trials, a speaker gazed and/or pointed towards one out of two objects while saying a new word. Pointing was either 'referential' (with intention), or 'incidental' (without obvious intention). To investigate whether children formed more robust word to-object links rather than associative word-to-location ones, we reversed the original location of the objects in half of the test trials.

Outcomes and Results: Children with ASC were as successful as TD children using social cues to form word-to-object mappings. Surprisingly, children with ID did not fast map from referential pointing, or when objects changed location.

Conclusions and Implications: Children with ID may use different processes to facilitate word learning compared to TD children and even children with ASC.