Date of Award

Summer 2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Jane Roberts

Second Advisor

Jessica Klusek

Abstract

Pragmatic, or social, language skills play a pivotal role in abilities that facilitate interpersonal relationships and independence, particularly in adulthood. Pragmatic language deficits are considered a core trait of males with fragile X syndrome (FXS); however, mechanisms that influence these abilities are not well known. This research is also limited by a lack of valid assessments that adequately capture pragmatic language skills. The present dissertation is the first to examine pragmatic language skills and mechanisms that influence these abilities using a novel, dynamic language assessment, the Yale in vivo Pragmatic Protocol (YiPP) in young adult males with FXS. Results revealed that communicative responses were lacking and required significant scaffolding from a conversational partner in the form of specific verbal requests. However, conversational turn taking appeared to be an area of personal strength. Increased severity of autism symptomology, but not social anxiety, was related to greater pragmatic language impairments. These findings have implications for informing measurement of pragmatic language skills and examination of mechanisms that may influence these abilities in more diverse clinical populations with intellectual disability (ID).

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