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

R Bedford, T Gliga, K Frame, K Hudry, Susie Chandler, M H Johnson, Tony Charman, BASIS Team, Patrick Bolton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)

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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-46
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Child Language
Volume40
Issue numberS1
Early online date5 Dec 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013

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