In this week’s blog, we summarize research covering the association between parent stress and child skills in children with hearing loss, predictors of language outcomes in late-talking toddlers, and different skill profiles in children with autism.
Associations Between Parenting Stress, Language Comprehension, and Inhibitory Control in Children With Hearing Loss
Previous research has demonstrated a potential relationship between parent stress and child skills, but the presence of an effect for parents of children with hearing loss is unclear. These researchers explored the relationships between parent stress, child language comprehension, and child inhibitory control (ability to ignore distractors) in children with and without hearing loss. They found that parent stress had a direct effect on the language comprehension skills of children with hearing loss and an indirect effect on the children’s inhibitory control. These effects were not found in children with typical hearing. Interestingly, there was no significant difference in parent-reported stress levels between the groups. This study suggests that addressing stress in parents of children with hearing loss may support their child’s language and inhibitory control, but more research is necessary to understand the unique stressors driving this relationship.
Measures of early social communication and vocabulary production to predict language outcomes at two and three years in late-talking toddlers
Some “late talkers” go on to develop typical language skills without intervention while others have persistent language difficulties. Determining which late-talkers require intervention and which will “catch up” on their own remains a challenge. In this study, the researchers looked at social communication and language skills in 1.5 year old children to see which were predictive of language skills at 2- and 3 years of age. They found that speech and vocabulary were the strongest predictors of language skills at age 2, and that social communication skills (e.g., joint attention and gesture use) were significant predictors of language skills at 3 years old. This demonstrates that assessing social communication skills at younger ages may help predict which children will continue to have language delays at age 3, but further research is necessary to understand the longer-term persistence of language difficulties into older ages.
Exploring Developmental and Behavioral Heterogeneity among Preschoolers with ASD: A Cluster Analysis on Principal Components
Each individual with autism has unique strengths and areas of challenge, and providers have struggled to find interventions suited for the broad profiles of this population. The researchers analyzed a group of 188 preschoolers with autism to identify 3 statistically distinct “clusters” of children. Cluster 1 included preschoolers with high cognitive, linguistic, and adaptive skills, and low levels of repetitive behaviors and sensory sensitivities. Cluster 2 included children with similarly high levels of cognitive and linguistic skills, but more repetitive behaviors and social skill difficulties than cluster 1. Cluster 3 included children with low cognitive, linguistic, and adaptive skills, more sensory sensitivities, and more difficulty with social skills. This study provides some preliminary evidence for distinct autism subgroups; further research should investigate the presence of these subgroups in other samples and how children in these clusters respond to various treatments.