Assessing Narrative Language in Students with ASD


When assessing the language skills of children with ASD, it is important to examine their narrative discourse. As we look beyond sentence-level productions, we can observe how they are putting conversations, storytelling, and social interactions together.  While this is often tricky to ascertain using a standardized test, the double interview, a story retell, and observation in natural settings (think "playground" or "after-school club") are important to add to a complete diagnostic picture.  What's more, these discourse-level productions help pave the way for goal-setting!  We see students who perform adequately on a question-answer standardized test, but have trouble coming up with the right words to say when speaking to a peer in class.  Our intervention should target these discourse-level interactions, as well as the underlying language structures needed for communication.

For more on narrative assessment, check out:

Volden, J., Dodd, E., Engel, K., Smith, I. M., Szatmari, P., Fombonne, E., … Duku, E. (2017). Beyond sentences: Using the Expression, Reception, and Recall of Narratives Instrument to assess communication in school-aged children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 60, 2228–2240.