And more

Hwa-Froelich & Matsuo found that children who were adopted internationally had pragmatic skills within the average range, yet their scores were lower than their non-adopted, typically-developing peers. Understanding the language skill profiles of children adopted internationally is important so that we don’t over-refer or misdiagnose these kids. P.S. We’ve reviewed this team’s research with this same population before here.

In the largest study of its kind to date, Potter, Nievergelt, & VanDam found that children with speech sound disorders have similar tongue strength as their typically-developing peers. This study adds to the evidence base that disputes the use of non-speech oral motor exercises in speech therapy.

Rivera Pérez et al. wondered whether monolingual SLPs could use audio prompting (i.e., pre-recorded stimuli in the home language) to facilitate vocabulary learning in Spanish–English bilingual preschoolers with typical language abilities. Children were taught vocabulary in either English only or in both English and audio prompt-delivered Spanish. All children learned English vocabulary, and only the group receiving audio prompting improved on Spanish vocabulary measures, suggesting audio prompting may help improvement in the home language. We should note that their design didn’t compare the English-only and English-plus-audio-prompting conditions and participants were typically developing children taught by SLPs. Still, more research like this could help identify ways SLPs can better serve their bilingual students. Exciting! 

Roberts et al. found positive effects of teaching preschoolers (including some dual language learners) letter name and letter–sound correspondence. No surprise there—we know how important that skill is! It is interesting that they found no advantage for teaching letter names before letter sounds: the jury’s still out on whether one should be taught before the other.

A study by Sue et al. reminds us to consider generalization not only across contexts but across receptive–expressive language modalities. In a single case design on vocabulary training in children with ASD, where children were taught a set of words either receptively or expressively, they found that some but not all of those words taught were acquired in the untrained modality. More expressive-to-receptive transfer was noted—which makes a lot of sense. There are still open questions about the optimal teaching order (if there is one) and what the implications are for dosage.


Hwa-Froelich, D. A., & Matsuo, H. (2019). Pragmatic language performance of children adopted internationally. American Journal of Speech–Language Pathology. doi:10.1044/2018_AJSLP-18-0075

Potter, N. L., Nievergelt, Y., & VanDam, M. (2019). Tongue strength in children with and without speech sound disorders. American Journal of Speech–Language Pathology. doi:10.1044/2018_AJSLP-18-0023

Rivera Pérez, J. F., Creaghead, N. A., Washington, K., Guo, Y., Raisor-Becker, L., & Combs, S. (2019). Using Audio Prompting to Assist Monolingual Speech–Language Pathologists to Teach English–Spanish Vocabulary to English Learners. Communication Disorders Quarterly. doi:10.1177/2F1525740118819659

Roberts, T. A., Vadasy, P. F., & Sanders, E. A. (2019). Preschoolers’ alphabet learning: Cognitive, teaching sequence, and English proficiency influences. Reading Research Quarterly. doi:10.1002/rrq.242

Su, P. L., Castle, G., & Camarata, S. (2019). Cross-modal generalization of receptive and expressive vocabulary in children with autism spectrum disorder. Autism & Developmental Language Impairments. doi:10.1177/2F2396941518824495

And more...

  • Barton-Hulsey et al. present three case studies of dynamic assessment for an AAC device. Their results, per client, can’t be generalized to a broader population. However, the article presents clear and explicit methods for AAC evaluation and data collection, which may be worth clinical consideration.
  • Iarocci et al., in study of 174 children with and without autism, found that, “… exposure to a second language is not associated with an adverse impact on the communication and cognitive skills of children with ASD.” The authors acknowledge some of the common concerns of bilingualism in low-language children, and review research on the benefits of bilingualism in these children.
  • Morgan et al. show that cleft palate is a risk factor for language development, and that internationally-adopted children with cleft palate are at an even greater risk of low language skills (presumably because of the interruption in language as they switch from L1 to a new primary L2). We’ve talked about the impact of foreign adoption on language before.
  • Tenenbaum et al. examined visual conditions to support word learning in typically-developing children and those with autism spectrum disorder. They found that for children with autism (ages pre-K through early-elementary, with Preschool Language Scales (PLS) scores of at least 12 months, and producing at least single words), the children learned new object words better when the targeted object was held close to the speaker’s face while producing the word (but without covering the mouth), and that this supported word learning better than attention to the mouth alone or attention to the object alone.
  • Thurman et al. examine differences between the language skills of male children with fragile X and autism, and found that boys with fragile X have a relative strength in lexical skills compared to boys with autism.

Barton-Hulsey, A., Wegner, J., Brady, N.C., Bunce, B.H., & Sevcik, R.A. (2017) Comparing the effects of speech-generating device display organization on symbol comprehension and use by three children with developmental delays. American Journal of Speech­–Language Pathology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1044/2016_AJSLP-15-0166.
Iarocci, G., Hutchison, S.M. & O’Toole, G.J. (2017). Second language exposure, functional communication, and executive function in children with and without autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s10803-017-3103-7
Morgan, A.R., Bellucci, C.C., Coppersmith, J., Linde, S.B., Curtis, A., Albert, M., O'Gara, M.M., & Kapp-Simon, K. (2017). Language development in children with cleft palate with or without cleft lip adopted from non–English-speaking countries. American Journal of Speech–Language Pathology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1044/2016_AJSLP-16-0030.

Tenenbaum, E.J., Amso, D., Righi, G., & Sheinkopf, S.S. (2017). Attempting to “Increase intake from the input”: attention and word learning in children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s10803-017-3098-0.

Thurman, A.J., McDuffie, A., Hagerman, R.J., Josol, C.K., & Abbeduto, L. (2017). Language skills of males with fragile X syndrome or nonsyndromic autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47(3), 728–743.

Language skills of internationally adopted children

Children adopted internationally (CAI) go through a period of interrupted language acquisition, where they must switch from a former language environment to a new one. Many of these children also spend some time in institutions, with a low adult-to-child ratio and few older children to provide social language examples. In this study, the authors review the literature to show that many of these children, though within normal limits, have delayed or slightly lower-than-average language skills. The findings of the current study were consistent with this. The internationally adopted four-year-olds in the current study... “…had lower CELF-P:2 (Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals–Preschool 2) core language scores for the expressive subtests than the U.S. nonadopted group,” but nonetheless, “… performed largely within 1 SD on the core language scores…” On average, these children had, “…lived with their adopted families for three years.”
The researchers, however, did more than just give the children a language test. They also examined their ability to perform routines that depend on cognitive and linguistic skills. They found that the CAI had difficulty with false belief tasks. These are tasks where you must recognize that another person’s perspective is different than yours, predict what the other person is thinking, and explain it (e.g. “What will your friend think is in the box?”). The children had the most difficulty with the more linguistically challenging tasks (e.g. answering “Why” questions). The variables predictive of performance on these tasks were the CELF core language score, and living with older siblings. This suggests that perhaps both the linguistic adjustment phase and the environment a child is adopted into have an impact on sociolinguistic outcomes.

Hwa-Froelich, D.A., Matsuo, H., Jacobs, K. (2016). False Belief Performance of Children Adopted Internationally. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1044/2016_AJSLP-15-0152.