Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Our research group is interested in exploring language development in children with developmental disabilities, including fragile X syndrome (FXS), Down syndrome (DS), and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We have found that each of these conditions has a unique linguistic “signature,” with different areas of relative strength and challenge.

Our current projects examine biological, behavioral, and environmental factors that influence the ways in which language develops over time and the processes that underlie language learning. We are interested, for example, in the ways in which differences in the FMR1 gene can lead to different language outcomes in people with FXS. As another example, we are interested in studying the ways in which parents can help promote language development in their sons and daughters.  And finally, we are studying the ways in which limitations in memory, problem solving, social understanding, and other abilities can alter the rate of language learning by individual with developmental disabilities.

Our goal is to use what we learn to promote more effective interventions for individuals with these disabilities. We expect to achieve this goal by sharing our findings with families, educators, and speech-language clinicians. We also are beginning to study ways in which language therapies can be made more effective.