Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Dense home-based recordings reveal typical and atypical development of tense/aspect in a child with delayed language development*


Studies investigating the development of tense/aspect in children with developmental disorders have focused on production frequency and/or relied on short spontaneous speech samples. How children with developmental disorders use future forms/constructions is also unknown. The current study expands this literature by examining frequency, consistency, and productivity of past, present, and future usage, using the Speechome Recorder, which enables collection of dense, longitudinal audio-video recordings of children's speech. Samples were collected longitudinally in a child who was previously diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, but at the time of the study exhibited only language delay [Audrey], and a typically developing child [Cleo]. While Audrey was comparable to Cleo in frequency and productivity of tense/aspect use, she was atypical in her consistency and production of an unattested future form. Examining additional measures of densely collected speech samples may reveal subtle atypicalities that are missed when relying on only few typical measures of acquisition.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Iris Chin, Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Connecticut, 406 Babbidge Road, Unit 1020, Storrs, Connecticut 06269-1020. tel: (860) 486-4942; E-mail:
Hide All

This research was funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (R01 2DC007428), and by ARRA Supplement 3R01DC007428-0451. We would like to thank Devin Rubin and Andrea Tovar for helping recruit families, Emily Potrzeba and Michelle Cheng for transcribing the immense dataset, and Julia Mertens for assisting in the coding of the utterances. We also thank Maria Coppola, other UCONN developmental psychology colleagues, and attendants of IMFAR 2012 in Toronto, ON and SRCD 2013 in Seattle, WA for providing helpful feedback. Finally, we are grateful for our two families that participated in this study and who agreed to have the Speechome Recorder installed in their homes. This paper was prepared from the first author's Master's Thesis.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

N. Akhtar & M. Tomasello (1997). Young children's productivity with word order and verb morphology. Developmental Psychology 33, 952–65.

G. Bartolucci , S. J. Pierce & K. Streiner (1980). Cross-sectional studies of grammatical morphemes in autistic and mentally retarded children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 10(1), 3949.

R. Brown (1973). A first language: the early stages. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

O. Capirci , L. Sabbadini & V. Volterra (1996). Language development in Williams Syndrome: a case study. Cognitive Neuropsychology 13(7), 1017–40.

N. Chomsky (1959). A review of B.F. Skinner's verbal behavior. Language 35, 2658.

H. Clahsen & M. Almazan (2001). Compounding and inflection in language impairment: evidence from Williams Syndrome (and SLI). Lingua 111(10), 729–57.

B. Comrie (1985). Tense. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

J. G. de Villiers & P. A. de Villiers (1973). A cross-sectional study of the acquisition of grammatical morphemes in child speech. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 2(3), 267–78.

K. Demuth , J. Culbertson & J. Alter 2006. Word-minimality, epenthesis, and coda licensing in the acquisition of English. Language & Speech 49, 137–74.

I. M. Eigsti , L. Bennetto & M. B. Dadlani (2007). Beyond pragmatics: morphosyntactic development in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 37, 1007–23.

L. J. Green (2002). African American English: a linguistic introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

E. Hoff (Ed.) (2012), Research methods in child language: a practical guide. Oxford: Blackwell.

P. Howlin (1984). The acquisition of grammatical morphemes in autistic children: a critique and replication of the findings of Bartolucci, Pierce, and Streiner, 1980. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 14(2), 127–36.

L. Kanner (1946). Irrelevant and metaphorical language in early infantile autism. American Journal of Psychiatry 103, 242–6.

L. B. Leonard (2015). Language symptoms and their possible sources of Specific Language Impairment. In E. L. Bavin & L. R. Naigles (eds), The Cambridge handbook of child language, 2nd ed. (pp. 545–63). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

L. B. Leonard , M. C. Caselli , U. Bortolini , K. K. McGregor & L. Sabbadini (1992). Morphological deficits in children with specific language impairment: the status of features in the underlying grammar. Language Acquisition 2(2), 151–79.

E. Lieven & H. Behrens (2012). Dense sampling. In E. Hoff (ed.), Research methods in child language: a practical guide (pp. 226239). Oxford: Blackwell.

C. Lord , M. Rutter , S. Goode , J. Heemsbergen , H. Jordan , L. Mawhood & E. Schopler (1989). Autism diagnostic observation schedule: a standardized observation of communicative and social behavior. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 19(2), 185212.

B. MacWhinney & C. Snow (1990). The child language data exchange system: an update. Journal of Child Language 17, 457–72.

R. J. Maslen , A. L. Theakston , E. V. Lieven & M. Tomasello (2004). A dense corpus study of past tense and plural overregularization in English. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 47(6), 1319–33.

L. R. Naigles (2012). Not sampling, getting it all. In E. Hoff (ed.), Guide to research methods in child language (pp. 240–53). Oxford: Blackwell.

R. G. Newcombe (1998) Two-sided confidence intervals for the single proportion: comparison of seven methods. Statistics in Medicine 17, 857–72.

J. B. Oetting & J. E. Horohov (1997). Past-tense marking by children with and without specific language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 40(1), 6274.

C. J. Park , G. W. Yelland , J. R. Taffe & K. M. Gray (2012). Morphological and syntactic skills in language samples of preschool aged children with autism: Atypical development? International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology 14(2), 95108.

R. Paul & S. Alforde (1993). Grammatical morpheme acquisition in 4-year-olds with normal, impaired, and late-developing language. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 36(6), 1271–5.

L. Rescorla (1989). The Language Development Survey: a screening tool for delayed language in toddlers. Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders 54, 589–99.

L. Rescorla , K. Dahlsgaard & J. Roberts (2000). Late-talking toddlers: MLU and IPSyn outcomes at 3;0 and 4;0. Journal of Child Language 27, 643–64.

L. Rescorla & J. Roberts (2002). Nominal versus verbal morpheme use in late talkers at ages 3 and 4. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 45(6), 1219–31.

L. Rescorla & H. L. Turner (2015). Morphology and syntax in late talkers at age 5. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 58(2), 434–44.

M. L. Rice , C. L. Taylor & S. R. Zubrick (2008). Language outcomes of 7-year-old children with or without a history of late language emergence at 24 months. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 51(2), 394407.

M. L. Rice , S. F. Warren & S. K. Betz (2005). Language symptoms of developmental language disorders: an overview of autism, Down syndrome, fragile X, specific language impairment, and Williams syndrome. Applied Psycholinguistics 26(1), 727.

M. L. Rice & K. Wexler (1996). Toward tense as a clinical marker of specific language impairment in English-speaking children. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research 39, 1239–57.

M. L. Rice , K. Wexler & P. L. Cleave (1995). Specific language impairment as a period of extended optional infinitive. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 38(4), 850–63.

M. L. Rice , K. Wexler & S. Hershberger (1998). Tense over time: the longitudinal course of tense acquisition in children with specific language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 41(6), 1412–31.

M. L. Rice , K. Wexler , J. Marquis & S. Hershberger (2000). Acquisition of irregular past tense by children with specific language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 43(5), 1126–44.

M. L. Rice , K. Wexler & S. M. Redmond (1999). Grammaticality judgments of an extended optional infinitive grammar: evidence from English-speaking children with specific language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 42, 943–61.

M. Rispoli , P. A. Hadley & J. K. Holt (2009). The growth of tense productivity. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 52, 930–44.

J. A. Roberts , M. L. Rice & H. Tager–Flusberg (2004). Tense marking in children with autism. Applied Psycholinguistics 25(3), 429–48.

Y. Shirai (1998). The emergence of tense–aspect morphology in Japanese: Universal predisposition? First Language 18, 281309.

Y. Shirai & R. W. Andersen (1995). The acquisition of tense–aspect morphology: a prototype account. Language 71(4), 743762.

H. Tager-Flusberg & S. Calkins (1990). Does imitation facilitate the acquisition of grammar? Evidence from a study of autistic, Down's syndrome and normal children. Journal of Child Language 17(3), 591606.

H. Tager-Flusberg , S. Calkins , T. Nolin , T. Baumberger , M. Anderson & A. Chadwick-Dias (1990). A longitudinal study of language acquisition in autistic and Down syndrome children. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 20, 121.

S. Tek , L. Mesite , D. Fein & L. Naigles (2014). Longitudinal analyses of expressive language development reveal two distinct language profiles among young children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 44(1), 7589.

J. B. Tomblin (2015). Children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI). In E. L. Bavin & L. R. Naigles (eds), The Cambridge handbook of child language, 2nd ed., 527–44. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

J. Tommerdahl & C. Kilpatrick (2013). Analysing frequency and temporal reliability of children's morphosyntactic production in spontaneous language samples of varying lengths. Child Language Teaching and Therapy 29(2), 171–83.

M. Tomasello (2000). Do young children have adult syntactic competence? Cognition 74, 209–53.

V. Valian (2006). Young children's understanding of present and past tense. Language Learning and Development 2(4), 251–76.

V. Volterra , M. C. Caselli , O. Capirci , F. Tonucci & S. Vicari (2003). Early linguistic abilities of Italian children with Williams syndrome. Developmental Neuropsychology 23(1/2), 3358.

L. Wagner (2001). Aspectual influences on early tense comprehension. Journal of Child Language 28(3), 661–81.

L. Wagner , L. D. Swensen & L. R. Naigles (2009). Children's early productivity with verbal morphology. Cognitive Development 24(3), 223–39.

L. Waterhouse & D. Fein (1982). Language skills in developmentally disabled children. Brain and Language 15, 307–33.

D. Williams , N. Botting & J. Boucher (2008) Language in autism and specific language impairment: Where are the links? Psychological Bulletin 134, 944–63.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Child Language
  • ISSN: 0305-0009
  • EISSN: 1469-7602
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-child-language
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 9
Total number of PDF views: 92 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 531 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 6th February 2017 - 25th June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.