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Medical University of Graz

Speech/Language Acquisition and Literacy Development

During the first year of life infants develop the neural capacity, perceptual capabilities and the vocal behaviour that prepares them for speech. Babbling begins at about seven months of age. The sound patterns of the infant’s first words closely resemble babbling. By about one year of age, the average child speaks at least one word, follows at least one of the one-step commands unaccompanied by gestural cues and uses index finger pointing to indicate desired objects.

Considering the immense complexity of language acquisition, it is not surprising to note that the onset of word production is delayed in 10-14% of children. As half of these children will catch up with their peers within a year or so, clinicians and researchers hesitate to use the term language impaired in connection with these children. Instead, they are labelled late talkers. At 24 months, late talkers speak some 50 words or even less and do not yet combine them. Usually, they are identified by scoring in the lowest 10% on Communicative Development Inventories (CDIs), one of the most frequently used parental report forms to document early vocabulary acquisition.

Around 7% of late talkers develop specific language impairments at the age of 5 years, and are likely to develop reading, writing, behavioural, social, and schooling problems later on.


** Brósch-Fohraheim, N; Fuiko, R; Marschik, PB; Resch, B The influence of preterm birth on expressive vocabulary at the age of 36 to 41 months. Medicine (Baltimore). 2019; 98(6): e14404.

** Grossheinrich, N; Schulte-Körne, G; Marschik, PB; Kademann, S; von Suchodoletz, W; Sachse, S School-age outcomes of late-talking toddlers: Long-term effects of an early lexical deficit. Dev Sci. 2019; 17(4): e12826-e12826.


** Lopes Moreira, ME; Nielsen-Saines, K; Brasil, P; Kerin, T; Damasceno, L; Pone, M; Carvalho, LMA; Pone, SM; Vasconcelos, Z; Ribeiro, IP; Zin, AA; Tsui, I; Adachi, K; Gaw, SL; Halai, UA; Salles, TS; da Cunha, DC; Bonaldo, MC; Raja Gabaglia, C; Guida, L; Malacarne, J; Costa, RP; Gomes, SC; Reis, AB; Soares, FVM; Hasue, RH; Aizawa, CYP; Genovesi, FF; Aibe, M; Einspieler, C; Marschik, PB; Pereira, JP; Portari, EA; Janzen, C; Cherry, JD Neurodevelopment in infants exposed to Zika virus in utero. N Engl J Med. 2018; 379(24): 2377-2379.

Schuller, BW; Steidl, S; Batliner, A; Marschik, PB; Baumeister, H; Dong, F; Hantke, S; Pokorny, FB; Rathner, E-M; Bartl-Pokorny, KD; Einspieler, C; Zhang, D; Baird, A; Amiriparian, S; Qian, K; Ren, Z; Schmitt, M; Tzirakis, P; Zafeiriou, S The INTERSPEECH 2018 Computational Paralinguistics Challenge: Atypical & self-assessed affect, crying & heart beats. In: Yegnanarayana, B; editors(s). Proceedings Interspeech 2018. Hyderabad: p. 122-126. 2018


** Krieber, M; Bartl-Pokorny, KD; Pokorny, FB; Zhang, D; Landerl, K; Körner, C; Pernkopf, F; Pock, T; Einspieler, C; Marschik, PB Eye Movements during Silent and Oral Reading in a Regular Orthography: Basic Characteristics and Correlations with Childhood Cognitive Abilities and Adolescent Reading Skills. PLoS One. 2017; 12(2): e0170986-e0170986.


** Krieber, M; Bartl-Pokorny, KD; Pokorny, FB; Einspieler, C; Langmann, A; Körner, C; Falck-Ytter, T; Marschik, PB The Relation between Reading Skills and Eye Movement Patterns in Adolescent Readers: Evidence from a Regular Orthography. PLoS One. 2016; 11(1): e0145934-e0145934. 


** Achmadi, D; van der Meer, L; Sigafoos, J; Lancioni, GE; O'Reilly, MF; Lang, R; Schlosser, RW; Hodis, F; Green, VA; Sutherland, D; McLay, L; Marschik, PB Undergraduates' perceptions of three augmentative and alternative communication modes. Dev Neurorehabil. 2015; 18(1): 22-25.

Kauschke, C; Bartl-Pokorny, KD; Marschik, PB; Vollmann, R Wortschatzvielfalt und Wortartenverteilung in Erzählungen von Kindern im Vorschulalter. In: Kilian, J; Eckhoff, J editors(s). Deutscher Wortschatz - beschreiben, lernen, lehren. Beiträge zur Wortschatzarbeit in Wissenschaft, Sprachunterricht, Gesellschaft.. 13: Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang; p. 105-121. 2015 (ISBN: 978-3-631-65548-1)

Kauschke, C; Bartl-Pokorny, KD; Marschik, PB; Vollmann, R Wortschatz in Erzählungen: Eine Untersuchung lexikalischer Aspekte narrativer Fähigkeiten bei Vorschulkindern mit und ohne Sprachauffälligkeiten. Sprache-Stimme-Gehör. 2015; 39(3): 149-155.


** Achmadi, D; Sigafoos, J; van der Meer, L; Sutherland, D; Lancioni, GE; O'Reilly, MF; Hodis, F; Green, VA; McLay, L; Marschik, PB Acquisition, Preference, and Follow-up Data on the Use of Three AAC Options by Four Boys with Developmental Disability/Delay. J DEV PHYS DISABILITIES. 2014; 26(5): 565-583.

** Couper, L; van der Meer, L; Schäfer, MC; McKenzie, E; McLay, L; O'Reilly, MF; Lancioni, GE; Marschik, PB; Sigafoos, J; Sutherland, D Comparing acquisition of and preference for manual signs, picture exchange, and speech-generating devices in nine children with autism spectrum disorder. Dev Neurorehabil. 2014; 17(2):99-109.

** Einspieler, C; Marschik, PB; Domingues, W; Talisa, VB; Bartl-Pokorny, KD; Wolin, T; Sigafoos, J Monozygotic Twins with Rett Syndrome: Phenotyping the First Two Years of Life J DEV PHYS DISABIL. 2014; 26(2): 171-182.

** Libertus, ME; Marschik, PB; Einspieler, C Number Word Use in Toddlerhood Is Associated with Number Recall Performance at Seven Years of Age. PLoS One. 2014; 9(6): e98573-e98573. [OPEN ACCESS]

** Marschik, PB The pivotal role of parents in documenting early development. N Am J Med Sci. 2014; 6(1):48-49. [OPEN ACCESS]

** Marschik, PB; Bartl-Pokorny, KD; Sigafoos, J; Urlesberger, L; Pokorny, F; Didden, R; Einspieler, C; Kaufmann, WE Development of socio-communicative skills in 9- to 12-month-old individuals with fragile X syndrome. Res Dev Disabil. 2014; 35(3): 597-602.

** Marschik, PB; Bartl-Pokorny, KD; Tager-Flusberg, H; Kaufmann, WE; Pokorny, F; Grossmann, T; Windpassinger, C; Petek, E; Einspieler, C Three different profiles: Early socio-communicative capacities in typical Rett syndrome, the preserved speech variant and normal development. Dev Neurorehabil. 2014; 17(1):34-38.

** Marschik, PB; Kaufmann, WE; Bölte, S; Sigafoos, J; Einspieler, C En route to disentangle the impact and neurobiological substrates of early vocalizations: Learning from Rett syndrome. Behav Brain Sci. 2014; 37(6): 562-563.

** Marschik, PB; Vollmann, R; Bartl-Pokorny, KD; Green, VA; van der Meer, L; Wolin, T; Einspieler, C Developmental profile of speech-language and communicative functions in an individual with the Preserved Speech Variant of Rett syndrome. Dev Neurorehabil. 2014; 17(4): 284-290.

** Roche, L; Sigafoos, J; Lancioni, GE; O'Reilly, MF; Green, VA; Sutherland, D; van der Meer, L; Schlosser, RW; Marschik, PB; Edrisinha, CD Tangible Symbols as an AAC Option for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities: A Systematic Review of Intervention Studies. Augment Altern Commun. 2014; 30(1): 28-39.

** Roche, L; Sigafoos, J; Lancioni, GE; O'Reilly, MF; Schlosser, RW; Stevens, M; van der Meer, L; Achmadi, D; Kagohara, D; James, R; Carnett, A; Hodis, F; Green, VA; Sutherland, D; Lang, R; Rispoli, M; Machalicek, W; Marschik, PB An evaluation of speech production in two boys with neurodevelopmental disorders who received communication intervention with a speech-generating device. Int J Dev Neurosci. 2014; 38(1):10-16.

** Roche, L; Sigafoos, J; Lancioni, GE; O'Reilly, MF; van der Meer, L; Achmadi, D; Green, VA; Kagohara, D; Sutherland, D; Rayner, C; Marschik, PB Comparing Tangible Symbols, Picture Exchange, and a Direct Selection Response for Enabling Two Boys with Developmental Disabilities to Access Preferred Stimuli. J DEV PHYS DISABIL. 2014; 26(3): 249-261.

** Sutherland, D; van der Meer, L; Sigafoos, J; Mirfin-Veitch, B; Milner, P; O'Reilly, MF; Lancioni, GE; Marschik, PB Survey of AAC Needs for Adults with Intellectual Disability in New Zealand. J DEV PHYS DISABILITIES. 2014; 26(1): 115-122.

** van der Meer, L; Sigafoos, J; Sutherland, D; McLay, L; Lang, R; Lancioni, GE; O'Reilly, MF; Marschik, PB Preference-Enhanced Communication Intervention and Development of Social Communicative Functions in a Child With Autism Spectrum Disorder. CLIN CASE STUD. 2014; 13(3): 282-295.


** Bartl-Pokorny, KD; Marschik, PB; Sachse, S; Green, VA; Zhang, D; Van Der Meer, L; Wolin, T; Einspieler, C Tracking development from early speech-language acquisition to reading skills at age 13. Dev Neurorehabil. 2013; 16(3):188-195.

** Bartl-Pokorny, KD; Marschik, PB; Sigafoos, J; Tager-Flusberg, H; Kaufmann, WE; Grossmann, T; Einspieler, C Early socio-communicative forms and functions in typical Rett syndrome. Res Dev Disabil. 2013; 34(10):3133-3138.

** Bartl-Pokorny, KD; Pokorny, F; Bolte, S; Langmann, A; Falck-Ytter, T; Wolin, T; Einspieler, C; Sigafoos, J; Marschik, PB Eye Tracking in Basic Research and Clinical Practice KLIN NEUROPHYSIOL. 2013; 44(3): 193-198.

** Marschik, PB; Kaufmann, WE; Sigafoos, J; Wolin, T; Zhang, D; Bartl-Pokorny, KD; Pini, G; Zappella, M; Tager-Flusberg, H; Einspieler, C; Johnston, MV Changing the perspective on early development of Rett syndrome. Res Dev Disabil. 2013; 34(4):1236-1239. [OPEN ACCESS]


** Bartl-Pokorny, KD; Theoharidou, C; Dreu, M; Vogrinec, G; Pokorny, F; Talisa, VB; Feigl, G; Einspieler, C; Marschik, PB Bilingualism: A Challenge for the Developing Brain. KLIN NEUROPHYSIOL. 2012; 43(3): 196-202.

** Eriksson, M; Marschik, PB; Tulviste, T; Almgren, M; Prez Pereira, M; Wehberg, S; Marjanovic-Umek, L; Gayraud, F; Kovacevic, M; Gallego, C Differences between girls and boys in emerging language skills: evidence from 10 language communities. Br J Dev Psychol. 2012; 30(Pt 2): 326-343.

** Marschik, PB; Einspieler, C; Sigafoos, J Contributing to the early detection of Rett syndrome: The potential role of auditory Gestalt perception. Res Dev Disabil. 2012; 33(2):461-466.

** Marschik, PB; Kaufmann, WE; Einspieler, C; Bartl-Pokorny, KD; Wolin, T; Pini, G; Budimirovic, DB; Zappella, M; Sigafoos, J Profiling early socio-communicative development in five young girls with the preserved speech variant of Rett syndrome. Res Dev Disabil. 2012; 33(6):1749-1756. [OPEN ACCESS]

** Marschik, PB; Pini, G; Bartl-Pokorny, KD; Duckworth, M; Gugatschka, M; Vollmann, R; Zappella, M; Einspieler, C Early speech-language development in females with Rett syndrome: focusing on the preserved speech variant. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2012; 54(5):451-456.

** Marschik, PB; Sigafoos, J; Kaufmann, WE; Wolin, T; Talisa, VB; Bartl-Pokorny, KD; Budimirovic, DB; Vollmann, R; Einspieler, C Peculiarities in the gestural repertoire: an early marker for Rett syndrome? Res Dev Disabil. 2012; 33(6):1715-1721. [OPEN ACCESS]

** Siegmüller, J; Ringmann, S; Strutzmann, E; Beier, J; Marschik, PB A Crucial Marker for Specific Language Impairment at the Preschool Age: Narrative Competence. Sprache Stimme Gehör. 2012; 36(3): 65-75.


** Bartl-Pokorny, KD; Landerl, K; Einspieler, C; Enzinger, C; Gebauer, D; Fink, A; Zhang, D; Kozel, N; Kargl, R; Preisler, AS; Vollmann, R; Marschik, PB Dyslexia and its Neural Signature KLIN NEUROPHYSIOL. 2011; 42(3): 166-171.


** Marschik, PB; Einspieler, C; Prechtl, HF; Oberle, A; Laccone, F Relabelling the preserved speech variant of Rett syndrome?. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2010; 52(2):218-218.


** Marschik, PB; Einspieler, C; Oberle, A; Laccone, F; Prechtl, HF Case report: Retracing atypical development: a preserved speech variant of Rett syndrome. J Autism Dev Disord. 2009; 39(6): 958-961.


** Marschik, PB; Einspieler, C; Garzarolli, B; Prechtl, HF Events at early development: are they associated with early word production and neurodevelopmental abilities at the preschool age? Early Hum Dev. 2007; 83(2): 107-114.


** Eisenwort, B; Marschik, P; Fladerer, A; Motl, S; Wedl, J; Eisenwort, G; Willinger, U; Vollmann, R Concerning specific language impairment: intelligibility in expressive language Klin Padiatr. 2004; 216(4): 225-229.

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