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Children's Attention to Overheard Speech

Are Children Good Eavesdroppers?

In this study, your child will play with toys with our friendly experimenters, and will watch two experimenters engage in conversation about some of the toys. The study is designed to be age-appropriate and fun. Your child will also participate in some standardized testing, also designed to be fun for children. You will remain with your child the entire time.

Eligibility for Study Participation

• 2 to 5 year olds with and without autism spectrum disorders.
• Children must be producing 2-word utterances (e.g., ‘more juice’, ‘go outside’).
• Primary language must be English.

Participation Details

Parents will complete a brief screening process prior to enrollment (generally completed over the phone). If a child is eligible for participation, a 2-hour visit will be scheduled in our lab. Upon arrival, parents will complete a set of questionnaires about their child. Children will complete some activities to measure their communication, problem-solving and play skills. Finally, children will play with toys with our friendly experimenters (including watching two experimenters engage in conversation about some of the toys) and then answer some questions about the toys. Free parking will be provided, and children will receive a small thank-you gift.

Research Contact

Rhiannon Luyster

Full Description

Children hear a great deal of language that is not directly addressed to them. This study investigates the extent to which children can learn the meanings of words in these situations. We are exploring this question in children who are typically developing as well as children with autism spectrum disorder. We hope to understand how overhearing others’ conversations plays a role in language development, and to see whether this differs in children with different language and communication profiles.

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