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Getting Kids to Talk: Early Vocal Development and its Derailment in Autism

- This meetup is on the second Saturday of July, not our usual fourth Saturday.
- This event is a production of the Atlanta Science Tavern.
- Dinner starts at 7:00 pm.
- The evening's presentation begins around 7:45.
- Seating will be on a first-come-first-served basis.
- The capacity of the venue is 80 people.
- We expect a turnout of around 60% of day-of RSVPs.
- Refer to our Open Seating Policy for details.
- There is a $3 contribution requested from non-students.

Getting Kids to Talk: Early Vocal Development and its Derailment in Autism

Gordon Ramsay, Ph.D.
Director, Spoken Communication Laboratory, Marcus Autism Center
Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Emory School of Medicine

Photo courtesy of Gordon Ramsay

Autism is a devastating neurodevelopmental disorder of early onset, characterized by deficits in social communication and restricted interests/repetitive behaviors. Children with autism are almost universally delayed in acquiring spoken language: about 25% of children with autism never learn to speak; another 25% will begin to speak and then lose the ability later on.

Understanding why some individuals with autism develop language and others do not is an important and active area of scientific research, because we know that early language ability is the best prognostic indicator of long-term outcome for this condition.

This talk will describe the developmental stages typical infants go through on the path to spoken language, and review current research on the many ways in which autism may impact speech and language development in early childhood. What we learn from children with autism will also teach us about typical development, and help us to treat other conditions.

About our speaker
Dr. Gordon Ramsay directs the Spoken Communication Laboratory at the Marcus Autism Center, and is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Emory School of Medicine. He completed a Ph.D. in electronics and electrical engineering at the University of Southampton in England, after receiving an M.Phil. from Cambridge University in speech and language processing. Before coming to Atlanta, he was an Associate Research Scientist at the Yale Child Study Center and Senior Scientist at Haskins Laboratories, and has held other positions in France, Belgium, Australia, and Ethiopia.

His research focuses on developmental profiling of vocal behavior, spoken communication, and social interaction in infants at risk of autism, as part of an NIH-funded Autism Center of Excellence. The goal is to develop evidence-based community-viable technologies for early detection and intervention in ASD, to ensure that every child at risk of autism learns to talk.

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  • Rose W.

    One thing, I hope I got this right, there was so much covered...was it 25% of kids with autism regress? (Lose speech.) That is, they lose abilities they once had...that's a lot!

    July 13, 2014

  • John Y.

    Dr. Ramsey talked about the "r from 30 million-word gap". There is a story in today's Journal Constitution (7/13/2014) called "Talking to baby builds brain - Health official says poor kids suffer from 30 million-word gap." It is about "Talk To Me Baby", a program designed to narrow that word gap.

    3 · July 13, 2014

  • Winston

    What an amazing presentation! There was a torrent of information from Dr. Ramsey who lovingly detailed his scheme to curb future manifestations of autism in young children.

    3 · July 12, 2014

  • Stefanie T.

    I am very excited about this evening and to learn more about the new early-detection tool Marcus is developing (as early as 6 months I have heard) that is suppossed to go out to physicians. So far, most children are diagnosed after the age of 2 when language does not develop as it should. The new tool looks among other components at differential attention toward objects and people or better the absence of the same.

    1 · July 11, 2014

  • Jonathan M.

    I really want to attend but I cannot this weekend. Will there be a podcast?

    July 11, 2014

    • Marc M.

      There should be a podcast eventually. We're pretty far behind in processing the ones that we have recorded.

      July 11, 2014

  • DrHokie1983

    I'm a family physician. How do I diagnose autism and what is/are the etiology/ies of autism?

    July 10, 2014

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