Journal Article Review #3

Children and Adolescents with ASD

The Purpose of Your Professional Learning Community (PLC)

We understand that not every teacher will be informed about the different disabilities out there. We have decided to keep our team informed so that you may not only be better teachers, but INFORMED teachers as well!

Courtesy of Professor Tabatha Astacio-Arce

Defining spoken language benchmarks and selecting measures of expressive language development for young children with autism

By Orenthal Lusk

This article offers insight into effectively and efficiently measuring interventions for spoken language as it pertains to autism. It also discusses common terminology which would describe the degree or level of ability as it pertains to spoken language in an individual with autism and setting benchmarks as a means to create effective interventions and compare desired outcomes across the spectrum. Autism is notably characterized by deficits in an individual’s social communication and interaction along with verbal communication and behavior. Communication begins at a very early age and is the first of many skills a child learns from birth. Research suggests that Interventions have a favorable and supportive effect on a child with autism language development and communication and can be measured accurately when treatment begin early. Pragmatics has been noted as the main form of language deficit that is associated with autism, in addition to grammatical development.

Multiple sources are used to collect data and provide the communication and spoken language abilities of children with ASD. One of the first items parents are concerned with when observing and relaying concerns about their child when faced with the diagnosis of autism is the child’s difficulty in communicating and learning language, and expression. Natural language or spontaneous speech samples in children with autism can provide information which can used to measure the child’s language and set benchmark data. This sample measures the child’s expressive and communicative language skills. Standardized tests or assessments by themselves are not an accurate measure, however, in combination with natural language, can provide a reliable and valid measure. Parents have the most experience in observing their child’s communication and language development and usage across various settings with various people and peers, so they will play a vital role in the assessment and benchmark process.

Interventions are designed to show progression and increase the child’s language and communication skills to a particular level over time. Phases in language development must be clearly defined to ensure that evaluation criteria can be properly charted to derive a minimum or beginning level, progress points, and benchmark. In closing, to make certain that the child’s needs are met across all daily settings, we must acknowledge the family as the most important element, encourage the child to participate in daily activities and conversations with peers, parents and teachers while building their communication and language skills.


Tager-Flusberg, H., & Cooper, J. (2009). Defining spoken language benchmarks and selecting measures of expressive language development for young children with autism. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 52(3), 643-652.

Predicting Spoken Language Level in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

By Andriene Sanders

Every child is expected to develop language skills. However, some do not develop the necessary language skills to effectively communicate. Language delays determine that something is wrong. In this article, the level of spoken language is determined. It mentions that spoken language is the best form of communication that is widely used. However, for children with autism, altered methods have to be used due to their language delay or inability to verbally communicate. As we take a look at the variables and predictors of the individual child, we determine what interventions are suitable and produce language level outcomes.

The children were tested at the age of two years old and again at the age of four. Using their socioeconomic level and the amount of therapy they have received, evidence was observed and documented. Socioeconomic factors were viewed due to maternal issues and cognitive development. This is in relation to parent-child interaction, which is related to language development. The amount of speech therapy given by a certified specialist is important to look at from the ages of two to three. Here, we determine the effects of intervention at a young age and measuring within one year intervals. Joint attention acts predict later spoken vocabulary or expressive language development in children with general developmental delays and in children with autism. Finally, object play goes along with language development according to the article.

The overall purpose of the study was to identify early child predictors of spoken language development in children with autism. It also examined the amount of speech therapy in relation to their level of language. Through a series of test and procedures, it was found that the component variables comprising the expressive language aggregate were highly inter-correlated at both time periods. Stronger motor imitation skills at age two and more hours of therapy showed more and better expressive language outcomes between two and three years old. For children with autism, the fact that their environment is efficient and therapy is readily available, the language outcome can show significant signs of development.

Stone, W.L., & Yoder, P.J. (2001). Predicting Spoken Language Level in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Autism. 5: 341-361

Defining Spoken Language Benchmarks and Selecting Measures of Expressive Language Development for Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

By Cynthia Orozco

Through the course of this article I learned about a different type of assessment this assessment is the natural language samples (NLSs). The NLS is a way of collecting language samples through different communicative contexts this type of assessment provides excellent expressive language results. The NLS is one of the best ways to measure a child’s pragmatic/communicative skills. These types of assessments are often collected during experimenter/ clinician-child or mother-child interactions.

The information in this article provided a lot of support and understanding for the communication difficulties that children with ASD face throughout their life. The support that the students receive is one that will best fit the student in the stage that they are in with their speech development. Throughout the course of this article the described five different phases of support that is offered for the individual child in their current level. The phases range from Preverbal Communication to the Complex Language these phases start at the 6 to 12 months stage and ends at the preschool stage of the beginning stage is basic babbling and the ending stage is with a richer vocabulary.

I would use the information taken from this article to explain to parents and co workers that there are many different ways to assess a child’s language development. I would take the time to explain the NLS and how it is an excellent for measuring expressive language. I would also explain that a support plain will be set up that is best for their child’s level of communication development.

The Use of Weighted Vests with Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Disabilities

By Tawonna Hutchinson

Sensory Integration (SI) therapy is a widely used, popular therapy that is used for children with ASD, as well as other disabilities such as cerebral palsy, ADHD, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, communication problems and other disabilities that we may teach. There are therapists that use sensory integration therapy and some recommend that children with ASD wear a weighted vest as an intervention strategy. It is suggested that the vest may help with problems such as "inattentiveness, hyperactivity, stereotypic behaviors and clumsiness." Per the article, a weighted vest may be able to provide a sensory input that could reduce some of the problems. In turn, having a calming effect on the child's central nervous system and brain structures, reducing arousal.

The use of the weighted vest may help calm a student, when aroused, but this will have to be written in the student's IEP. As the teacher, you may be able to consult with the OT on the student, to see what is suggested. It is imperative that when performing the IEP review, the Occupational Therapist review this suggestion with the parent. Do not put a student in a weighted vest if it is not in their IEP.

Research is still being performed on the use of the weighted vest on students with ASD.

Stephenson, J., & Carter, M. (2009). The use of weighted vests with children with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities. Journal Of Autism & Developmental Disorders, 39(1), 105-114 10p. doi:10.1007/s10803-008-0605-3