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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Assessing language progress in children with autism : a comparison of two approaches Fawcett, Susan Margaret


In both the research and clinical arenas, the measurement of children's progress in language therapy is commonly completed by the administration of formal, norm-referenced tests. This is despite the fact that more naturalistic or informal measures, such as language sample analyses, may be better suited to this assessment task. This issue may be particularly relevant in the assessment of young children with autism due to their unique set of communication challenges. The question addressed in the present study, then, is whether the data resulting from both types of measures, formal and informal, provides convergent information about the progress made in several areas of expressive communication by seven children with autism. Seven children with autism were assessed using both types of tools at two successive data points, and the information gleaned from each type of assessment was then compared. It was found that, in the majority of cases, the two data sets did not converge on the type of information they provided about how the children progressed as a result of therapy. It appeared as though this was due to two factors: child factors, such as not having the prerequisite test-taking abilities to earn scores on the formal measures, and assessment tool factors, such as some language domains not being addressed adequately by formal tests.

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