Laboratory on Language Development in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

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 individuals 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 Language Development in Young Adults with FXS

If you have a son or daughter with fragile X syndrome in or entering the last year of high school, 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 Disabilities at the MIND Institute, University of California, Davis and two other sites across the United States.
The goal of the study is to learn more about how certain abilities (e.g. memory), certain types of experiences (e.g. interactions with family), and biology affect language abilities in adulthood for both males and females with fragile X syndrome. We are also interested in understanding how these factors and language/literacy skills affect the abilities of these young adults to function independently. Such information will help us suggest ways to improve teaching and therapy techniques for these individuals.
If you are interested in participating in this study, you and your son or daughter will be asked to participate in 4 assessment visits over a 3-year period. Two visits will be completed at one of our study sites and two will be completed from home. During these visits some assessments will be done directly with your son/daughter, some assessments will be done directly with you, and we will ask you to provide some additional information about your son/daughter. Travel costs will be reimbursed.

If you would like to learn more about this study, please call the Study Coordinator at 916-703-0485 or email: