Title: The use of demonstratives and personal pronouns in fragile X syndrome and autism spectrum disorder
Legend: This study investigated the production of demonstratives (e.g., this, that, these) and personal pronouns in school-age boys with idiopathic autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and school-age boys with fragile X syndrome (FXS) with a co-diagnosis of ASD (FXS+ASD). During a conversation sample with the examiner, boys with FXS+ASD produced significantly more demonstratives overall compared to boys with ASD. Additionally, boys with FXS+ASD produced more concrete demonstratives (i.e., a demonstrative that referred to something tangible, such as a specific object or activity) and used demonstratives more appropriately than boys with idiopathic ASD. Boys did not differ in their production of personal pronouns during the conversation sample.
Citation: Friedman, L., Lorang, E., & Sterling, A. (2019). The use of demonstratives and personal pronouns in fragile X syndrome and autism spectrum disorder. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 33, 420-436. PMCID: PMC6481616.
Abstract: Demonstratives (e.g. here, that, these) and personal pronouns are early developing components of language, which are often impaired in young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Additionally, demonstrative and personal pronoun use are linked to joint attention and language ability early in life for individuals with ASD. Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is a genetic disorder with a significant amount of overlap in its behavioral phenotype with ASD. The present study examined demonstrative and personal pronoun production during a conversation sample in adolescent boys with ASD and adolescent boys with FXS with a co-diagnosis of ASD (FXS+ASD). Findings indicated that grammatical complexity was related to both qualitative and quantitative aspects of demonstrative and personal pronoun production in boys with ASD, while grammatical complexity was related to the total number of demonstratives and personal pronouns produced in the boys with FXS+ASD. ASD severity was not related to demonstrative or personal pronoun production in ASD, although it was negatively correlated with the total number of personal pronouns produced by the boys with FXS. Additionally, groups did not differ significantly in production of personal pronouns, but they did differ significantly in multiple aspects of demonstrative use. Findings suggest that these groups produce similar rates of personal pronouns in the school-age years, while production of demonstratives differentiates these groups. This study contributes to the knowledge of the language phenotypes of idiopathic ASD and FXS+ASD, and provides implications for intervention targets for school-age children with these disorders.
About the Lab: The Research in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Lab (RIDDL) is interested in the development of language and cognitive skills in children and adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Through our work we hope to inform both clinical work and theory on issues surrounding assessment and treatment of language, the impact of additional diagnoses on language and behavior, and overlap between syndromes. We work with families who have children with fragile X syndrome, autism spectrum disorders, and Down syndrome.