Tory Sampson (BU ’15) has joined the Deaf Autism Research Project as a Research Assistant! Learn more about Tory here.

Dr. Aaron Shield, Principal Investigator

Aaron Shield, Ph.D.

Aaron Shield joined the Psychology Department at Boston University in September 2011 as a postdoctoral research fellow. He holds a doctorate in linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin, and specializes in the linguistic and cognitive development of deaf children. Prior to coming to Boston University, he was a postdoctoral research fellow under Dr. Susan Goldin-Meadow in the Psychology Department at the University of Chicago, where he conducted research on the signing and gesturing of deaf children (in collaboration with Dr. Carol Padden at the University of California-San Diego). In addition to being a signer of American Sign Language (ASL), Dr. Shield has studied 12 spoken languages and is fluent in five.

Ph.D. 2010, Linguistics, The University of Texas at Austin

Advisor: Dr. Richard P. Meier

Dissertation title: The Signing of Deaf Children of Autism: Lexical Phonology and Perspective-Taking in the Visual Spatial Modality

**Winner of the Award for the Outstanding Dissertation in the Social Sciences, Business, and Education, the University of Texas at Austin, 2010

MA 2004, Linguistics, The University of Texas at Austin

BA 1999, Italian Studies, Wesleyan University

Recent publications:

Shield, A. & Meier, R.P. (forthcoming, 2013). “The acquisition of sign language by deaf children with autism spectrum disorder.” In Quinto-Pozos, D. (Ed.), Multilingual Aspects of Signed Language Communication and Disorder. Bristol, England: Multilingual Matters.

Shield, A. & Meier, R.P. (2012). Palm reversal errors in native-signing children with autism. Journal of Communication Disorders, 45, 439-454.

Goldin-Meadow, S., Shield, A., Lenzen, D., Herzig, M., & C. Padden (2012). The gestures ASL signers use tell us when they are ready to learn math. Cognition, 123, 448-453.

Shield, A. & J. Baldridge (2007). “A Morphological Analyzer for American Sign Language.” Proceedings of the Texas Linguistics Society X: Computational Linguistics for Less-Studied Languages. CSLI Publications.

Shield, A. (2005). “Ideological Conflict at Group Boundaries: The Hearing Children of Deaf Adults”. In C. Sunakawa, T. Ikeda, S. Finch & M. Shetty (Eds.), Texas Linguistic Forum 48, Papers from SALSA XII.

Shield, A. (2003). “The 64 Million Dollar Vowel: Anglo Pronunciation of a Spanish Last Name in Texas”. In Penn Working Papers in Linguistics Volume 9.2, Papers from NWAV 31.

Click here to see or download Dr. Shield’s papers.

Works in preparation:

Shield, A. (in prep). Spatial grammar constructions in deaf children with autism: The role of perspective-taking.

Shield, A. (in prep). When points are pronouns: Evidence for a deficit in self-representation from deaf children with autism.

Shield, A., & Meier, R.P. (in prep). Sign language experience overrides default gesture imitation processes.

Shield, A., & Meier, R.P. (in prep). Manual echolalia in the signing of children with autism spectrum disorders.

Martin, A., & Shield, A. (in prep). Intact mental rotation skills in deaf children with autism.

Mood, D., &  Shield, A. (in prep). Clinical use of the ADOS with children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Mood, D., &  Shield, A. (in prep). Are signs words or gestures? Scoring the ADOS for deaf children.

Keane, J., & Shield, A. (in prep). Fingerspelling rate in deaf children with and without autism.

Recent presentations and posters:

“Personal pronoun avoidance in deaf children with autism.” Talk to be presented at Boston University Child Language Development (BUCLD) 38, November 1, 2013.

“Spatial grammar constructions in deaf signing children with autism.” Talk presented at the workshop “Language and Mind in Autism”, International Congress of Linguists (ICL) 19, Geneva, Switzerland, July 25, 2013.

“Autismo e sordità: Nuove scoperte e sfide.” Invited talk presented in Italian at the Institute for Cognitive Sciences and Technologies, National Research Countil, Rome, Italy, July 19, 2013.

“Different echolalia types in native-signing children with autism.” Talk presented at the Society for Research on Child Development (SRCD) pre-conference on development in deaf and hard-of-hearing children. Seattle, WA, April 17, 2013.

“Autism, deafness, and sign language: Research issues and clinical implications.” Invited talk presented to the Boston Medical Center Developmental Pediatrics literary seminar, March 28, 2013.

“Palms, points, and pronouns: Language and cognition in deaf children with autism.” Invited talk presented to the Harvard University Language and Cognition Group, Department of Psychology, February 26, 2013.

“Palm reversals are the pronoun reversals of sign language.” Poster presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR), Toronto, May 18, 2012.

“Theoretical implications of research on deaf children with autism.” Invited talk presented at the Boston University Developmental Science Colloquium and Brown Bag Series, March 28, 2012.

“Preliminary goals of research into deafness and autism: Documenting and making connections.” Invited talk at York University, England, November 11, 2011.

“Phonological errors in the signing of deaf children with autism: Clues to cognition.” Invited talk at the Deafness, Cognition, and Language (DCAL) Centre, University College London, November 10, 2011.

“Sign language and autism: Phonological errors in the sign language of deaf children with autism.” Talk at the Encontro Nacional Sobre Aquisição da Linguagem (ENAL) VIII, Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora, Juiz de Fora, Brazil, October 18, 2011. [Shield, A. & Meier, R.P., presented by RPM.]

“Sign language and autism: Phonological errors in the sign language of deaf children with autism.” Talk at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, Brazil, October 13, 2011. [Shield, A. & Meier, R.P., presented by RPM.]

“The role of mismatch in the signing and gesturing of deaf children: Mathematical equivalence problems.” Poster at the Visual Language & Visual Learning (VL2) site visit, Northwestern University, May 16, 2011.

“Different strategies for solving mathematical equivalence in a sign language.” Paper presented at the 41st Meeting of the Jean Piaget Society, Berkeley, CA, June 2011.

“Sign language and autism: An intersection of modality, language, and cognition.” Invited talk given at the University of Chicago Workshop on Language, Cognition, and Computation, January 28, 2011.

“Palm orientation errors are characteristic of deaf children with autism.” Poster presented at Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research (TISLR) 10, West Lafayette, IN, October 2010.

“Phonological errors in the signing of deaf autistic children: More evidence for a self-other mapping deficit.” Paper presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR), Philadelphia, PA, May 2010.

“Visual perspective taking in sign language: Evidence from deaf children with autism.” Paper presented at the Linguistic Society of America (LSA), Baltimore, MD, January 2010.

“Are some signs hard for deaf autistic children to learn?” Poster presented at Signing on the Spectrum: Meeting the Needs of Deaf Children with Autism, Framingham, MA, October 2008.

“Sign language in deaf and hearing autistic children: An exploratory study.” Poster presented at Society for Research on Child Language Disorders (SRCLD), Madison, WI, June 2008.