Study – How do children learn to communicate?


Dear Parent/Guardian

My name is Cheriece Carter and I am a PhD student at Lancaster University. I would like to invite your child to participate in a research project investigating how children with, and without, an autistic sibling or parent develop communication skills in early childhood.

What is the study about?


Many children who develop autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have difficulty learning to communicate using symbols, including language and pictures. This study will explore how the development of symbolic communication skills differs in children aged 2-4 years old who are considered to have low- or increased-risk of developing ASD. Some research suggests that children with an older sibling or parent diagnosed with ASD have a greater likelihood of developing ASD themselves, and are therefore considered ‘increased-risk.’


In PART 1 of this project, we will study children’s understanding and use of words, pictures, pretend play and visual perception via a series of games. In 12 months’ time, children will be invited to play the same set of games again in order for us to measure how their communication skills have developed over time (PART 2 of the project). Our aim is to identify important differences between the early development of children who are later diagnosed with ASD, and those who are not. This knowledge can inform educational practices and interventions, as well as helping to improve detection of communication difficulties in young children.


Is my child eligible to take part?






What will my child be asked to do?


In PART 1 of this study, your child will play simple and fun games in the comfort of their own home or educational setting. These games will be divided across several sessions, which can be arranged at your convenience. After a 12-month interval, we wish to repeat these activities for PART 2 of this study.


If you have any questions about this research or would like your child to take part, please contact me via email:

Many thanks for your time


Cheriece Carter

PhD Student, Department of Psychology Fylde College

Lancaster University, LA1 4YF

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