Author ORCID Identifier

Allison Gladfelter:

Document Type



A local processing bias, often considered a cognitive style unique to autism spectrum disorder (ASD), may influence the types of semantic features acquired by children with ASD and could contribute to weaknesses in word learning. Children with developmental language disorder (DLD) also struggle to learn semantic aspects of words, but this cognitive style has not been ascribed to children with DLD. The purpose of this study was to explore whether global–local processing di erences influence the type of semantic features children with ASD, DLD, and their neurotypical peers learn to produce when learning new words. Novel word definitions produced by 36 school-aged children (12 with ASD, 12 with DLD, and 12 with typical language) who participated in an extended word-learning paradigm were used to extract newly learned semantic features. These semantic features were then coded for global and local attributes and analyzed to detect whether there were di erences between groups. Results indicated that the children with ASD and DLD produced more global, rather than local, semantic features in their definitions than the children with typical language. An over-reliance on global, rather than local, features in children with ASD and DLD may reflect deficits in depth of word knowledge.



Publication Date



Funding for open access fees paid for by Northern Illinois University. Initial data collection was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) grants R01DC004826 (PI: Lisa Go man) and 2T32DC000030 (PI: Laurence Leonard) at Purdue University. The current research analyses were supported by the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Language

Original Citation

Gladfelter A, Barron KL. How Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Developmental Language Disorder, and Typical Language Learn to Produce Global and Local Semantic Features. Brain Sciences. 2020; 10(4):231.


School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders

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