I started my PhD in September 2020 on the acquisition of the linguistic notion of ‘topic' in autistic and typically developing children and adolescents, with prof. Jeannette Schaeffer, prof. Karen Lahousse and dr. Tim Ziermans as my advisors. 'Topic' is what a sentence is about and is crucial for effective communication, including, for example, correct pronoun and article (a/the) use. Before starting my PhD, I obtained a research Master degree in Linguistics from the University of Amsterdam.
My project investigates how children/adolescents acquire topic, what other aspects of linguistic and extra-linguistic cognition affect this, whether there are differences between males and females, and whether 'topic' acquisition is linked to social communication abilities. In answering these questions, the project will contribute to a better understanding of the communicative challenges found in autism, in turn leading to recommendations for remediation methods.