Have you ever had a student who scored higher on expressive language than receptive on a standardized test? If not yet, it’s something you’ll see sooner or later, and is more likely to happen in certain populations than others Recall how Haebig & Sterling found this to be the case sometimes for autism, and also occasionally Fragile X? There are quite a few studies in the literature demonstrating this effect in children with autism, but expected proportions are all over the place. This month’s article importantly demonstrates that the receptive–expressive discrepancy is age-dependent.
The data from this study is pooled from previous longitudinal studies. They examined Preschool Language Scale scores of children with autism, and found that the majority of children with autism had receptive language scores lower than expressive between ages two and three, but as they approached ages four and five, the discrepancy disappeared. Now, a few things to note:
In addition to examining the scores of children with autism, the authors also looked at scores of late talkers (who did not later receive an autism diagnosis) and found that the receptive scores of these children were all higher than expressive. This information can support clinicians in understanding the likely trajectory of early childhood students on their caseload.
The authors suggest, “…these results underscore the notion that best clinical practice is to consider both receptive and expressive language during assessment rather than just considering overall language level.” They also state, “…most treatments for ASD do not directly target comprehension, a point that has been previously criticized (Camarata, 2014),” and, “…parents and clinicians should concentrate on what toddlers with ASD understand as well as focusing on their language production.”
Davidson, M.M., Weismer, S.E. (2017). A discrepancy in comprehension and production in early language development in ASD? Is it clinically relevant? Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Advance online publication. doi: 10.3109/17549507.2013.858773.
This April 2017 edition of TISLP was
written and researched
by Meredith Harold, PhD, CCC-SLP.
Dr. Harold and The Informed SLP have no conflicts of interest to disclose at this time.
For April 2017,
we reviewed 34 journals and
identified 98 articles as potentially relevant to Pediatric and School-Based SLPs. We then narrowed it down to what's covered here. For more on how we do this, see FAQ.
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