About this Research Topic
The ability to communicate using language develops with remarkable ease for typically developing children. By approximately twelve months of age, typically developing children will produce their first word. The literature on typical language acquisition has identified a number of factors which support early language acquisition. These include the ability to segment words from a stream of speech (a perceptual skill), the ability to point or follow another person's gaze, babbling, symbolic play, object categorisation, parental input, as well as the child's general cognitive skills. Each of these precursor skills interact in multiple ways and it is difficult to determine (if only focusing on typical language acquisition), which of these may be more important than others for language to be acquired successfully. Investigating the precursors to language in atypical populations, such as children with developmental disorders who have difficulties with language acquisition, provides a unique opportunity to 1) assess the relative contribution of each of the above precursors for language acquisition; 2) delve deeper into the possible underlying causes of language delays/disorders in children with developmental disorders; 3) contribute to theoretical debates around the issue of whether language acquisition develops independently of other cognitive abilities or whether there is an interaction between these and language.
Although we know a lot about the language deficits in children with Down's syndrome, Williams syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Developmental Language Disorder, we know remarkably little about the relationship between precursors to language in these populations, and the resulting language profile or which precursors may be more important than others. The aim of the current Research Topic is to bring together researchers working on different precursors to language acquisition in different populations such as, for example, Down's syndrome, Williams syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Developmental Language Disorder, Down’s syndrome, Fragile-X syndrome. Papers are especially welcome if they address at least two precursors at a time in the same population, or if they focus on inter-syndrome comparisons.
Keywords: Precursors, Language Acquisition, Developmental Disorders
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