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I was sitting in on an ADOS-2 a few months ago with a nonverbal little guy. He used a fair amount of sign language, which got me thinking: do the pragmatic communication problems associated with autism happen in nonverbal or deaf children? After a little Google searching, I found Dr. Aaron Shield, a linguist out of Miami University, who has specialized in this very niche for much of his academic career. Join us today as we dive into this fascinating intersection of deafness and autism. Here are a few topics that we touch on:
- The neuroanatomical similarities and differences between sign and spoken language
- The biggest myths associated with American Sign Language
- Similarities and differences in language acquisition in deaf kids on the spectrum
- Use of the ADOS-2 (and other common assessment tools) with deaf kids.
Note: Aaron did not mention this on the podcast, but he let me know after our interview that it is still clinically appropriate to use the ADI-R in assessing deaf kids with autism.
Cool Things Mentioned
- Group at Children’s Colorado and Boston Children’s Hospital
- Deaf Autism America parent group
- Dr. Shield’s research and contact info: languageshield.com
- Shield, A., Mood, D., Salamy, N., & Henner, J. (to appear, 2020). Issues in the assessment of signed language in deaf children with ASD. In W. Mann (Ed.), Handbook of Language Assessment across Modalities. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Deaf Autism America 3rd annual retreat: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10159161778465828&set=gm.3049057738437878&type=3&theater&ifg=1
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About Dr. Aaron Shield
A native of Providence, Rhode Island, Aaron Shield received his B.A. from Wesleyan University in Italian Studies in 1999. He holds an M.A. (2004) and Ph.D. (2010) in Linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin, where he wrote his dissertation on the effects of autism spectrum disorder on the acquisition of American Sign Language by deaf children. He then completed postdoctoral training in Psychology at the University of Chicago and Boston University. Since 2015 he has been Assistant Professor of Speech Pathology and Audiology at Miami University of Ohio, where he continues to teach and do research on language development and disorders.
Dr. Shield’s interests include how language develops in typical and atypical children, particularly deaf and hearing children acquiring sign language, and deaf and hearing children on the autism spectrum. He is interested in the relationship between language and other aspects of cognition, particularly how differences in social cognition can impact language development. He is also interested in the role that language modality (i.e. speech vs. sign language) affects language structure. He has published widely on these subjects in journals such as Autism, Cognition, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, Autism Research, Journal of Communication Disorders, Frontiers in Psychology, and Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, where he is an Associate Editor.
About Dr. Jeremy Sharp
I’m a licensed psychologist and Clinical Director at the Colorado Center for Assessment & Counseling, a private practice that I founded in 2009 and grew to include 12 licensed clinicians, three clinicians in training, and a full administrative staff. I earned my undergraduate degree in Experimental Psychology from the University of South Carolina before getting my Master’s and PhD in Counseling Psychology from Colorado State University. These days, I specialize in psychological and neuropsychological evaluation with kids and adolescents.
As the host of the Testing Psychologist Podcast, I provide private practice consulting for psychologists and other mental health professionals who want to start or grow psychological testing services in their practices. I live in Fort Collins, Colorado with my wife (also a therapist) and two young kids.
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