Generalization of Learned Vocabulary in Children with ASD

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Abstract in English

The purpose of this study was to investigate receptive and expressive word acquisition and cross-modal generalization in children with autism spectrum disorder. A single-case parallel treatments design was used to compare word learning and cross-modal generalization in children with autism spectrum disorder. Ten children with autism spectrum disorder were taught unfamiliar vocabulary words in a combined storybook and play intervention. For each child, half of the target words were trained expressively and the other half were trained receptively by random assignment. No direct cross-modal instruction was delivered. A series of probe sessions were completed to assess participants’ within-modal learning and cross-modal generalization of vocabulary learning.

All children learned target words in both receptive and expressive conditions, as evidenced by an average of 80% accuracy across three trials at the end of each intervention. Overall, cross-modal generalization was higher for the expressive-to-receptive direction than for the receptive-to expressive direction. Contrary to the assumption that vocabulary learning will be ‘‘automatically’’ generalized across modalities, results from this study indicate that cross-modal generalization at the word level is not automatic nor consistent in children with autism spectrum disorder, particularly in the receptive-to-expressive direction.


Su, P. L., Castle, G., & Camarata, S. (2019). Cross-modal generalization of receptive and expressive vocabulary in children with autism spectrum disorder. Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, 4, 2396941518824495.

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