Taylor Anderson, Megan Israel Sen, Amy Nielsen, and Brigid Crotty, Utah State University
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have been shown to use substantially more simple sentences as compared to complex sentences in their spontaneously generated narratives (Sanford, Pearson, Summers, Crotty and Gillam, 2015). However, Sanford et al., showed that children with ASD began to use substantially more complex sentences in their stories during and after narrative treatment (>50%). It is possible that children with ASD may experience greater difficulty using complex sentences in stories they must generate than in retelling stories they have heard. The purpose of this study was to examine story retells of 5 children with ASD before, during and after narrative intervention for syntactic complexity. Results indicated that during baseline when children were not receiving instruction, their story retells contained more simple sentences than complex sentences. The use of complex sentences was observed to increase as children became more proficient in their narrative production skills. When compared to stories children generated on their own (spontaneous stories), the story retells contained more complex sentences overall, but were often associated with less verbal fluency particularly as children were mastering narrative skills. The findings will be discussed in terms of trade-offs in verbal fluency, grammaticality and the use of complex sentences during different stages of narrative proficiency as a function of initial language knowledge.