Purpose: The aims of this article are twofold: (a) to offer a set of recommended measures that can be used for evaluating the efficacy of interventions that target spoken language acquisition as part of treatment research studies or for use in applied settings and (b) to propose and define a common terminology for describing levels of spoken language ability in the expressive modality and to set benchmarks for determining a child's language level in order to establish a framework for comparing outcomes across intervention studies.
Method: The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders assembled a group of researchers with interests and experience in the study of language development and disorders in young children with autism spectrum disorders. The group worked for 18 months through a series of conference calls and correspondence, culminating in a meeting held in December 2007 to achieve consensus on these aims.
Results: The authors recommend moving away from using the term functional speech, replacing it with a developmental framework. Rather, they recommend multiple sources of information to define language phases, including natural language samples, parent report, and standardized measures. They also provide guidelines and objective criteria for defining children's spoken language expression in three major phases that correspond to developmental levels between 12 and 48 months of age.
Tager-Flusberg, H., Rogers, S., Cooper, J., Landa, R., Lord, C., Paul, R. et al. (2009). Defining spoken language benchmarks and selecting measures of expressive language development for young children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 52(3), 643-652.