JBBS  Vol.10 No.5 , May 2020
Verbal Short-Term Memory as Language Predictor in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Abstract: Verbal short-term memory (vSTM) has been shown to be associated with language development in typical and atypical populations. In this study, we investigated cognitive and language skills in 33 school-aged children with ASD (6 - 12 years old) with both typical and low levels of intelligence (18 with typical non-verbal IQ [>80 in Raven] and 15 with low non-verbal IQ [<60 in Raven]). We administered standardized measures for the assessment of cognitive skills: non-verbal IQ (Greek version of Raven), vSTM (assessed with word recall), immediate and delayed visual memory, as well as language skills: expressive vocabulary (Greek Crichton vocabulary scale), receptive vocabulary and syntactic production (assessed with sentence recall). We were interested in investigating whether there is an interrelation between cognitive and language measures, which cognitive function(s) could better predict the language skills of children with ASD and vice versa and whether ASD children with low cognitive skills always perform poor on language tasks. The results showed that non-verbal IQ correlated significantly and strongly with all three language tasks (p < 0.001), while memory tasks (vSTM, immediate and delayed visual memory, visual information recall) correlated significantly and strongly with expressive vocabulary and syntactic production (p < 0.05). Regression analysis showed that expressive vocabulary was predicted by non-verbal IQ and vSTM, syntactic production was predicted by vSTM and picture comprehension was predicted by non-verbal IQ. Conversely, expressive vocabulary could predict non-verbal IQ, vSTM, immediate visual memory, delayed visual memory, and visual information recall. It seems that vSTM is a strong predictor of language skills for children with ASD, just like it is for other typical and atypical populations. Finally, dissociations exist in individual performances between non-verbal IQ and memory on the one hand and language skills (expressive vocabulary, syntactic production) on the other hand. We discuss the significance of these findings in terms of previous results reported in ASD literature as well as in terms of clinical implications and intervention in ASD individuals.
Cite this paper: Talli, I. (2020) Verbal Short-Term Memory as Language Predictor in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science, 10, 200-219. doi: 10.4236/jbbs.2020.10513.

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