Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Our research group is interested in exploring language development in children with developmental disabilities, including fragile X syndrome (FXS), Down syndrome (DS), and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We have found that each of these conditions has a unique linguistic “signature,” with different areas of relative strength and challenge.

Our current projects examine biological, behavioral, and environmental factors that influence the ways in which language develops over time and the processes that underlie language learning. We are interested, for example, in the ways in which differences in the FMR1 gene can lead to different language outcomes in people with FXS. As another example, we are interested in studying the ways in which parents can help promote language development in their sons and daughters.  And finally, we are studying the ways in which limitations in memory, problem solving, social understanding, and other abilities can alter the rate of language learning by individual with developmental disabilities.

Our goal is to use what we learn to promote more effective interventions for individuals with these disabilities. We expect to achieve this goal by sharing our findings with families, educators, and speech-language clinicians. We also are beginning to study ways in which language therapies can be made more effective. 

Highlighted Study

Study on Memory in Children, Adolescents and Young Adults

If you have a son or daughter with Down syndrome or fragile X syndrome aged 6.00 to 17.99 years of age, you and your child are invited to participate in a research study being conducted by Dr. Leonard Abbeduto at the Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disorders at the MIND Institute, University of California, Davis and two other sites across the United States.

The goal of this study is to develop a comprehensive, computerized memory assessment for use in populations with Intellectual disabilities. It is our hope that the memory assessment you are helping to develop will aid in diagnosing memory problems in these and other populations.
If you decide that you and your son or daughter would like to be in this study, we will ask you to visit one of the study sites three times over a period of approximately 6 months. At each visit, your son or daughter will complete the Arizona Memory Assessment, which is administered on a touch tablet. We will also be collecting samples of your son/daughter's cognitive and verbal abilities through a series of memory and speech measures administered by study staff, as well as a variety of sleep measures. Some of these measures will be administered several times across visits in order to determine if the information we obtain is consistent. Additionally, tabletop versions of a cognitive assessment will be performed. We will also ask you to fill out some questionnaires and participate in an interview about your child's behavior and everyday living skills.

If you would like to learn more about this study, please call Vivian Nguyen at 916-703-0226 or email: