Brief Report: Learning Language Through Overhearing in Children with ASD

Rhiannon J. Luyster, Sudha Arunachalam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We explored whether children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) learn new nouns from overheard speech. Thirteen children (4–5 years) with ASD participated in an Addressed condition, in which they were directly taught a novel label (e.g., toma) for one of three novel objects, and an Overheard condition, in which the objects and label were presented in a conversation between two adults. In both conditions, children were then asked to identify the labeled object (e.g., “find the toma”). Children selected the target novel object at rates above chance in the Addressed condition, and of critical importance, they also did so in the Overheard condition. This suggests that, like TD children, children with ASD may learn from language that is not directed to them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2616-2624
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Language
  • Word learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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