Senior Honors Projects, 2020-current

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation




Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders


Emily R. Zane

Geralyn Timler

Jaime Lee


The ability to communicate effectively and efficiently while maintaining mutual understanding is a fundamental aspect of human-to-human interaction. Studies have shown that individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) face challenges in areas of social communication skills, such as aspects of referential communication; or the ability to refer to things in such a way that a listener will know what the speaker is describing. The current study used data from a preexisting Barrier study to compare the referential communication abilities of school-aged children with ASD to those of neurotypical children (NT). Referential communication was observed during a barrier task, where participants sat across an opaque barrier from a communication partner and used language to refer to objects the partner could not see. Effectiveness and efficiency were coded and characterized quantitatively in the results and qualitatively in the discussion. Effectiveness was observed through the participants' use of strategy-switching, and by the use of uninformative utterances. Measures of efficiency included a subset of strategy switching timing data, as well as the production of redundancies. Results demonstrated that groups did not significantly differ in measures of strategy switching or timing; however, group differences did occur in the use of uninformative and redundant language. By using broad measures that capture communication quality across the entire task, the current honors capstone project builds upon previous research by accounting for the dynamic nature of human-to-human interaction, which relies not only on the behaviors of the speaker but on their interlocutor, and how those behaviors evolve across the interaction.



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