Belgian ‘Language in Autism’ Study

Program EOS (Excellence of Science) of F.R.S. – FNRS and of Research Foundation Flanders – FWO

Spokesperson : M. Kissine (ULB)

ULB: M. Kissine, A. Destrebecqz, G. Deliens.

KULeuven: Ilse Noens, Inge Zink, Jean Steyaert.

UGent: Herber Roeyers, Petra Warreyn.

The majority of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) display a significant language delay, which may be resorbed to varying extents between 2 and 7 an autistic child will develop language. Language development in ASD is usually conceived as depending on the improvement of socio-communicative skills, much as in typically developing children. However, there are reasons to believe that in some children on the autism spectrum linguistic development may follow an atypical pattern, partly independent of social interaction and communication. In our multi-site and multilingual project, language will be longitudinally followed by collecting and qualitatively analysing day-long audio-recordings in a large cohort of young autistic children. To delineate different language acquisition pathways, non-social and social cognitive skills will be assessed using behavioural, eye-tracking and EEG tasks, along with detailed questionnaires which will target the child’s environment and development. With this project we aim to establish a major breakthrough in the understanding of autism and contribute substantially to the development of new intervention techniques.