The Oral Narrative Comprehension and Production Abilities of Verbal Preschoolers on the Autism Spectrum Purpose This study described the oral narrative comprehension and production skills of verbal preschool-age children on the autism spectrum and investigated correlations between oral narrative ability and norm-referenced language test performance. Method Twenty-nine preschool-age children (aged 4;0–5;9 years;months) with autism, who obtained an age-equivalent score of at least ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 05, 2017
The Oral Narrative Comprehension and Production Abilities of Verbal Preschoolers on the Autism Spectrum
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Marleen F. Westerveld
    School of Allied Health Sciences, Griffith University, Southport, Queensland, Australia
    Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism, Long Pocket, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  • Jacqueline M. A. Roberts
    Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism, Long Pocket, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
    School of Education and Professional Studies, Autism Centre of Excellence, Griffith University, Mt. Gravatt, Queensland, Australia
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. The corresponding author has a financial relationship with SALT Software, LLC. SALT Software, LLC, did not participate in the design, execution, or analysis/interpretation of the project/project data. SALT Software, LLC, did not review the article before submission.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. The corresponding author has a financial relationship with SALT Software, LLC. SALT Software, LLC, did not participate in the design, execution, or analysis/interpretation of the project/project data. SALT Software, LLC, did not review the article before submission. ×
  • Correspondence to Marleen F. Westerveld: m.westerveld@griffith.edu.au
  • Editor-in-Chief: Shelley Gray
    Editor-in-Chief: Shelley Gray×
  • Editor: Kerry Ebert
    Editor: Kerry Ebert×
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 05, 2017
The Oral Narrative Comprehension and Production Abilities of Verbal Preschoolers on the Autism Spectrum
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, October 2017, Vol. 48, 260-272. doi:10.1044/2017_LSHSS-17-0003
History: Received January 5, 2017 , Revised April 30, 2017 , Accepted August 1, 2017
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, October 2017, Vol. 48, 260-272. doi:10.1044/2017_LSHSS-17-0003
History: Received January 5, 2017; Revised April 30, 2017; Accepted August 1, 2017

Purpose This study described the oral narrative comprehension and production skills of verbal preschool-age children on the autism spectrum and investigated correlations between oral narrative ability and norm-referenced language test performance.

Method Twenty-nine preschool-age children (aged 4;0–5;9 years;months) with autism, who obtained an age-equivalent score of at least 36 months on the expressive communication subscale of the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales–Second Edition (Sparrow, Cicchetti, & Balla, 2005), participated. Children listened to an unfamiliar fictional narrative and answered comprehension questions afterward. After listening to the narrative a second time, children were asked to retell the narrative without picture support. Narratives were transcribed and analyzed for length, semantic diversity, grammatical complexity and accuracy, intelligibility, inclusion of critical events, and narrative stage.

Results All children participated in the comprehension task, and 19 children produced an analyzable narrative retell. Compared with published data on typically developing children, significant difficulties were observed in narrative comprehension, intelligibility, and grammatical accuracy. Most of the children told descriptive or action sequences, with only 1 child producing an abbreviated episode. Significant positive correlations were found (a) between performance on the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test–Fourth Edition (Dunn & Dunn, 2007) and semantic diversity and narrative comprehension and (b) between parent-reported receptive communication competence (Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales–Second Edition) and narrative comprehension.

Conclusions This study provides preliminary evidence of specific difficulties in oral narrative comprehension and production skills in verbal preschoolers on the autism spectrum.

Acknowledgments
The authors acknowledge the financial support of the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC), established and supported under the Australian Government's Cooperative Research Centres Program.
We would like to thank the families and children for participating in this study. We are also grateful to our research assistants for collecting the data.
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