Clinician Proposed Predictors of Spoken Language Outcomes for Minimally Verbal Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
David Trembath, Rebecca Sutherland, Teena Caithness, Cheryl Dissanayake, Valsamma Eapen, Kathryn Fordyce, Grace Frost, Teresa Iacono, Nicole Mahler, Anne Masi, Jessica Paynter,
Katherine Pye, Sheena Reilly, Veronica Rose, Stephanie Sievers, Abirami Thirumanickam, Marleen Westerveld & Madonna Tucker
Our aim was to explore insights from clinical practice that may inform efforts to understand and account for factors that predict spoken language outcomes for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder who use minimal verbal language. We used a qualitative design involving three focus groups with 14 speech pathologists to explore their views and experiences. Using the Framework Method of analysis, we identified 9 themes accounting for 183 different participant references to potential factors. Participants highlighted the relevance of clusters of fine-grained social, communication, and learning behaviours, including novel insights into prelinguistic vocal behaviours. The participants suggested the potential value of dynamic assessment in predicting spoken language outcomes. The findings can inform efforts to developing clinically relevant methods for predicting children’s communication outcomes.