The objective of this project is to develop a curriculum and prototype software for a research-based vocabulary development program featuring a combined lexical-cognitive approach to noun acquisition. The target population for the curriculum will be children ages 3;0 to 12;0 with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) as well as a broad range of other children with language disorders. The curriculum will use a core noun vocabulary in four sets of training activities to address four interrelated goals: (a) to train a core noun vocabulary using both fast and slow mapping strategies;(b) to enrich the semantic features of lexical entries by associating functional and/or descriptive information with each noun;(c) to enhance lexical organization by using the core vocabulary in a series of categorization activities involving superordinate classification, inclusion, and exclusion;and (d) to expand paradigmatic schemas with training that associates basic level nouns with paradigmatically associated concepts. In Phase I, a subset of the curriculum will be developed and used in field-testing with subjects in the target populations. Data collected will be used to guide Phase II development and field-testing of the full curriculum for efficacy with the target populations specified.
Impaired language is recognized as one of the hallmarks of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Despite extensive incidental exposure to language, many children with ASD have a markedly limited vocabulary and are clearly in need of formal remediation. The goal of this project is to develop a curriculum and prototype software for a research-based vocabulary development program featuring a combined lexical-cognitive approach to noun acquisition. The curriculum will focus on helping children to develop the learning processes necessary for efficient lexical acquisition and organization, and on laying the groundwork for a rich and semantically well organized conceptual framework. This will provide a cost effective means to promote early language and cognitive development in children with ASD as well as a broad range of other children with language disorders.