And more

Bent & Holt found that 5- to 7-year-olds’ ability to recognize words was significantly lower when the speaker had a nonnative accent (Japanese). When background noise was added, the children struggled to understand both the native Japanese speaker and a British English speaker, compared to an American English speaker.

Girbau found that bilingual (Spanish/English) children with language disorders and normal nonverbal intelligence had difficulty understanding long distance animate direct object pronoun sentences. What the heck is that, you ask? A sentence like this: “The ant explains that the snakes from the green jungle are scaring her with the strong hissing.” It might be useful to include “long distance” pronouns like this in therapy.

Klein-Tasman et al. administered the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) to children with Williams Syndrome who spoke at least in three-word phrases. They found a high risk (about 1 in 3) for ASD in this population. They also identify which particular social and repetitive behaviors are common in Williams Syndrome generally and which may point to a comorbid ASD diagnosis.

Mandak et al. found evidence through systematic review that literacy interventions (sight-word based, phonological, or combined) are effective at helping individuals who use aided AAC improve their word-reading abilities. They encourage clinicians to consider a combined approach, incorporate evidence-based prompting strategies such as time delay, and to be mindful of the tasks used to measure word knowledge.

O’Neill et al.’s meta-analysis reminds us that interventions that include aided input have been highly effective in improving expression and comprehension among people who use AAC. The majority of participants in studies included in the meta-analysis were preschool- or elementary-aged children with developmental disabilities.

Thistle et al. found that preschoolers without disabilities selected symbols on AAC display more quickly when the locations were consistent, rather than variable. The authors remind us that we need to replicate these findings with children with disabilities, but in the meantime the study provides evidence we can use to remind our co-workers about the importance of consistency in motor learning.

Reeves et al. studied the effect of Early Talk Boost (ETB) intervention on language scores in 3-year-olds, and found that children who received ETB intervention (in 20 minute group sessions 3 times/week for 9 weeks, delivered by teachers) improved significantly compared to children in a control group. Note: this article wasn't fully reviewed because it's not available to the majority of our audience, with training only provided in the UK. We hope to see further research and expanded training opportunities in the future!

Stark found that anxiety is the strongest predictor of the development of selective mutism in bilingual children. Bilingual status itself did not predict selective mutism. However, the family’s orientation to the mainstream culture was positively associated with children’s speaking behavior in preschool. 

Zemlock et al. found that practice with any kind of handwriting (letters OR numbers!) led to improvements in letter recognition in preschool- and kindergarten-aged children.


Bent, T., & Holt, R. F. (2018). Shhh… I Need Quiet! Children’s Understanding of American, British, and Japanese-accented English Speakers. Language and Speech. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/0023830918754598

Girbau, D. (2018). Direct object pronoun sentences processing in Spanish-English children with/without Specific Language Impairment and adults: a cross-modal priming study. Journal of Communication Disorders, 72, 91–110. doi: 10.1016/j.jcomdis.2018.01.003

Klein-Tasman, B.P., van der Fluit, F. & Mervis, C.B. (2018). Autism Spectrum Symptomatology in Children with Williams Syndrome who have Phrase Speech or Fluent Language. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s10803-018-3555-4

Mandak, K., Light, J., & Boyle, S. (2018). The effects of literacy interventions on single-word reading for individuals who use aided AAC: a systematic review. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 1–13. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/07434618.2018.1470668

O’Neill, T., Light, J., & Pope, L. (2018). Effects of Interventions That Include Aided Augmentative and Alternative Communication Input on the Communication of Individuals with Complex Communication Needs: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. doi: 10.1044/2018_JSLHR-L-17-0132

Reeves, L., Hartshorne, M., Black, R., Atkinson, J. Baxter, A., & Pring, T. (2018). Early talk boost: A targeted intervention for three year old children with delayed language development. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 34(1), 53–62.

Stark, A. (2018). Effects of anxiety, language skills, and cultural adaptation on the development of selective mutism. 74, 45–60.

Thistle, J. J., Holmes, S. A., Horn, M. M., & Reum, A. M. (2018). Consistent Symbol Location Affects Motor Learning in Preschoolers Without Disabilities: Implications for Designing Augmentative and Alternative Communication Displays. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1044/2018_AJSLP-17-0129

Zemlock, D., Vinci-Booher, S., & James, K. H. (2018). Visual–motor symbol production facilitates letter recognition in young children. Reading and Writing, 31(6), 1255–1271.