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Robyn assign 1

  1. 1. A Critique of Verbal Working Memory and Story Retelling in School-Age Children with Autism (Gabig, 2008). by Robyn Wood
  2. 2. A Brief Summary Cheryl Smith Gabig • Ph. D. in speech pathology Purpose of research: • examines the verbal working memory (VWM) and language ability in schoolaged children with autism • compares the VWM of school aged children with autism with those of typically developing children (TD) Research methods: • Sample group: 15 autistic children and 10 (TD) age-matched children. • Used 3 measures of verbal working memory with increasing levels of cognitive-linquistic complexity • Measured story retelling
  3. 3. Links to this paper Neuroscience - autism . global developmental problem of the brain including Broca’s & Wernicke’s areas - role of working memory and the central executive Theoretical models of Verbal Working Memory Theory of Mind* Reading and comprehension Attention
  4. 4. Findings of this Research Autistic children: 1. Showed working memory deficits 2. Performed significantly lower in VWM tasks 3. Performed within a hierarchy of VWM tasks 4. Showed receptive vocabulary* was strongly associated to sentence imitation - suggesting processing & recall relate to stored vocabulary knowledge. This does not apply to TD group. 5. Have an inferior working memory capacity for complex verbal tasks
  5. 5. Findings of this Research Contd. Lack of performance is: • multi-causal • best supported by the Connectionist theory of verbal working memory* (MacDonald & Christiansen, 2002 as cited in Gabig, 2008, p500) - I.e. memory deficit influenced by: - complexity of language input - complexity and interaction of biological network (nodes) • may be attributed to lack of theory of mind (Baron-Cohen, Leslie & Firth, 1985)
  6. 6. Critical Review of this Research Analysis • research valuable to teachers • difficult to understand . methodology assumed prior knowledge . terms not always defined • results relevant to the language processing tasks used in classes with autistic children Evaluation • builds on prior research • logical argument assumes . story retelling requires greater language processing demands . autistic children will struggle • Main arguments supported e.g. - poor performance links to Premack & Woodruff ‘s (1978) Theory of Mind’ as cited in Gabig’s 2008, p. 508) - failure to meet processing demands lowers achievements Gathercole & Alloway (2007)
  7. 7. Critical Review Contd…. Problem solving: • Limitations to design are acknowledged • Further research suggested • Impact of research hinted at, however implementation for classroom practice isn’t clearly stated Decision Making: • Having a 50% smaller TD group - does this affect the results? • Mix of type of school attended. Despite consistency of language input in methodology, does the inconsistency of school experiences skew the results in light of the connectionist theory? • There is a “high degree of variability in the clinical manifestations of … [autism] especially within the communication and language domains” (p. 498) - could this variance apply to the 15 autistic children? • If sentence comprehension was measured, would the results differ? • Appropriateness of non-word stimuli given autistic children are literal? • The role of attention and it’s impact on the results (some of the autistic children needed refocusing during task completion) Reasoning: • Despite the critical questions above, I believe Gabig’s conclusions are reasonable.
  8. 8. Practical Implications for Classrooms with Autistic Children 1. Monitor the types of tasks given 2. Use social stories 3. Ascertain levels of existing language knowledge and work with this 4. Harness strengths (e.g. lower verbal working memory hierarchy tasks) 5. Develop programs that build experiences and vocabulary 6. Limit use of story recall
  9. 9. References Baron-Cohen, S. Leslie, A.M., Firth, U. (1985). Does the autistic child have a ‘theory of mind’? Cognition, 21, 37- 46 Gabig, C. S. (2008). Verbal working memory and story retelling in school-age children with autism. Language, Speech & Hearing Services in Schools, 39(4) 498-510. Gathercole, Prof S. E. & Packiam Alloway, Dr T. (2007). Understanding working memory. A classroom guide. London WC1V6EU: Harbour Assessment. Internet link: