In this research round-up, we summarize articles about how children with both ASD and intellectual disability learn words as well as how communication styles vary for parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Referent selection in children with autism spectrum condition and intellectual disabilities: Do social cues affect word-to-object or word-to-location mappings?
Typically developing (TD) children are able to quickly learn a word for a new object when an adult provides social cues (such as pointing or looking) when they label it. There is some conflicting evidence regarding this “fast mapping” ability in children with both intellectual disability (ID) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The researchers looked at children with ASD and ID’s ability to learn a new word when an adult provided social cues (pointing and looking) while labeling an object. They found that children with ASD were as successful as TD children, but children with ID were not. This suggests that children with ID may need different supports to facilitate word learning.
Parental strategies used in communication with their deaf infants
Most deaf and hard of hearing children are born to hearing parents, and these families are often unfamiliar with visual communication strategies before the birth. The researchers studied a small number of families in Belgium with deaf children to investigate if visual communication strategies differed in parents who were deaf versus hearing. They found that deaf parents used more implicit strategies (e.g., waiting for the eye gaze) and tactile strategies (e.g., touching the child) while hearing parents used more oral-aural strategies (e.g., making a noise). They also found that deaf parents had longer periods of successful interaction than hearing parents with their deaf children. This suggests that it might benefit hearing parents to learn more about visual communication and be trained in additional strategies.