Vocabulary Use in Writing Samples of Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Amanda Davis, Yana Clarke, and Dr. Johanna Price, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Western Carolina University, 1 University Way, Cullowhee, NC 28723

We gathered and examined written language samples across persuasive, expository, and narrative genres in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and typically developing (TD) adolescents. Adolescents with ASD demonstrated greater vocabulary diversity than TD adolescents in a previous study (Price et al., 2020). The current study is a follow-up analysis exploring the types of vocabulary used by ASD. Approximately 46% of children with ASD have average or above-average intellectual disabilities (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014), or high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (HFASD). Children with HFASD are expected to acquire average academic achievement, while many tend to experience writing difficulties (Estes et al., 2011; Whitby & Mancil, 2009). However, minimal research has been conducted to explore the linguistic diversity between ASD and TD adolescents through these genres. Nonstandardized writing samples contain an abundant source of information regarding multiple writing components, including syntax, vocabulary, and macrostructure (Price & Jackson, 2015). The three genres were collected from each participant, with order counterbalanced, and typed through Microsoft word with surface errors corrected. Cognitive, emotional, and idiosyncratic language were coded in each sample. The samples were also coded for rare words through the Corpus of Contemporary American English. The participants within the study included 16 adolescents (10 with HFASD, 6 TD). The groups did not differ on chronological age (ASD mean = 13;1, SD = 2;5; TD mean = 12;8, SD = 2;6) (t (15) = 0.318, p = 0.755) or on Wechsler Abbreviated Scales of Intelligence – Second Edition (Wechsler, 2011) Full-Scale IQ scores (ASD mean = 100.2, SD = 15.5; TD mean = 111.3, SD = 21.8) (t (15) = -1.149, p = 0.268). We expect the participants with ASD to express more rare words and idiosyncratic language, but fewer cognitive, emotional words. We will discuss the clinical implications of our findings. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenters: Amanda Davis, Yana Clarke

Institution: Western Carolina University

Type: Poster

Subject: Linguistics & World Languages

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 8
Date/Time: Tue 5:00pm-6:00pm
Session Number: 5551