Investigating word learning in fragile X syndrome: A fast-mapping study

Andrea McDuffie, Sara T. Kover, Randi J Hagerman, Leonard J Abbeduto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Fast-mapping paradigms have not been used previously to examine the process of word learning in boys with fragile X syndrome (FXS), who are likely to have intellectual impairment, language delays, and symptoms of autism. In this study, a fast-mapping task was used to investigate associative word learning in 4- to 10-year-old boys with FXS relative to younger typically developing boys and age-matched boys with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Task performance exceeded chance levels for all groups; however, boys with FXS outperformed boys with ASD, despite having lower levels of nonverbal cognition. Memory task demands significantly impacted performance only for boys with typical development. For boys with FXS or ASD, fast-mapping uniquely accounted for small but significant variance in concurrent levels of vocabulary comprehension as did chronological age and nonverbal IQ, but not autism severity. Understanding the fast-mapping process has implications for designing interventions to support word learning and language acquisition in these populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1676-1691
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Autism
  • Fast-mapping
  • Fragile X syndrome
  • Language development
  • Vocabulary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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