This week’s edition features articles on caregiver use of child-directed speech to children with a biological risk of language impairment, conversational turn-taking between mothers and children with cochlear implants, and features of parent-reported regression in children with autism spectrum disorder.
Language nutrition for language health in children with disorders: A scoping review
Studies have shown that the quantity and quality of child-directed speech is associated with children’s language skills. These researchers did a review of 57 studies to find out more information about caregiver use of child-directed speech for children at risk of language impairment (preterm birth, intellectual disability, and autism). They found that caregiver’s child-directed speech was overall similar across all populations of children; however, caregivers of children with disorders were more intrusive (redirecting the child’s attention) than typically developing children. While many features of child-directed speech were positively associated with child language outcomes, intrusiveness was negatively associated with outcomes. The researchers also looked at interventions that targeted child-directed speech and found that they varied widely across studies. Overall, the interventions had minimal effects, but intensive programs were more successful. This suggests that clinicians should designate part of their sessions to counsel and teach caregivers how to use high quality child-directed speech that follows their child’s lead.
Vocal-Turn Taking between Mothers and Their Children with Cochlear Implants
The quantity and quality of conversational turns in caregiver-child interactions is also associated with children’s language skills. The researchers in this study examined vocal turn taking in children with cochlear implants (CI) over their first year of implantation compared to peers with typical hearing. Three months after the implant, children with CIs had a smaller proportion of turn-taking, a larger proportion of simultaneous speech, and longer between-speaker pauses than children with typical hearing. Twelve months after the implant, children with CIs had similar proportions of turn-taking and simultaneous speech compared to children with typical hearing. However, mothers continued to vocalize less in response to child with CIs vocalizations, and children with CI had longer pauses between turns than children with typical hearing. This suggests that clinicians should support mothers of children with hearing loss in frequency of turn taking and duration of pausing between turns to ensure that children with hearing loss benefit from vocal-turn taking experiences.
Characteristics, Early Development and Outcome of Parent-Reported Regression in Autism Spectrum Disorder
Past studies have found that approximately 30% of children with autism show a regression in skills during their second year of life. However, the research has been unclear on whether regression is a distinct clinical sub-type of ASD, and the researchers wanted to explore more about these groups of children. They found that children with a regression had similar IQ scores, impairments in early social development, and repetitive and stereotyped behaviors compared to children who did not have a regression. However, prior to the regression, children who would later regress had less parent-reported communication skills than children who would not regress. Additionally, after the regression, children who would regress had a higher level of repetitive and stereotyped behavior than children who did not regress. The researchers also found that using questionnaires in addition to parent interviews helped increase the reliability of parent report of skill regression. These results suggest that parent report of communication skills through multiple methods could be a prognostic indicator of regression in children with ASD.