Construction learning in children with autism


While much research has been focused on how social deficits impede autistics’ language, little work has considered how other, non-social aspects of autism may affect its development. In this study, autistic children’s oft-noted difficulty in generalization is explored as a potential factor in their language delay. In order to address this, we examined the ability of autistic children to generalize over linguistic exemplars en route to learning a novel abstract phrasal construction. In this non-social, computer based design, participants were exposed to videos pairing a novel action (an agent approaching another person) with a novel abstract phrasal form (NP NP V). While children with autism displayed comparable memory for the original examples relative to a typically developing control group, they showed a distinct inability to abstract over them. Our results suggest that generalization deficits play a contributing role in both hindering and shaping autistic language.

Proceedings of the Thirty-Sixth Annual Boston University Conference on Language Development: Supplemental, 1-15
Jeremy Boyd
Jeremy Boyd
Behavioral & data scientist

I develop evidence-based interventions aimed at improving human developmental outcomes.