Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Assessing Autism Spectrum Disorders Topic of 32nd Faculty Lecture

- 04/12/12 - 04/13/12


            A six month-old sees three copies of their mother’s image in front of them. Is the infant confused or upset by these multiple images? This simple observation can help answer complex questions about a child’s development, and offers a preview into this year’s Faculty Lecture at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.  

            Dr. Stephen Oller, associate professor of communication sciences and disorders, has been selected by Faculty Senate committee to deliver the 32nd Annual Faculty Lecture. His topic will look at the Milestones Scale of Development, used to assess Autism Spectrum Disorders.            

            The public is invited to attend this free event, happening at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 12, in the J. Talmer Peacock Auditorium, located in the Biology-Earth Science Building, on the A&M-Kingsville campus.  

            A reception will follow the lecture in the outdoor mall area of the Memorial Student Union Building, under the pavilion.  

            The formal title of the lecture is Assessing ASDs Using the Individual’s Representational Capacity: Reliability Based on Student and Professional Ratings.  

            The Milestones Scale of Development, originated in 1999, plays a key role in the lecture. The Scale’s purpose is to assess Autism Spectrum Disorders. The basis for the scale is that language is dependent on an individual’s ability to handle representations of increasing levels of abstractness. How the scale has changed from its original design, the reliability of the scale, and current projects to continue the validation of the scale are at the heart of this year’s talk. 

            Oller has studied in his field for 10 years. One of his most formative experiences was working with Dr. Daniel Povinelli, professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and a researcher in comparative cognitive development. Oller was able to work as an assistant in Povinelli’s chimpanzee lab at the New Iberia Research Center, testing the cognitive skills of chimpanzees. Povinelli ran a separate lab on the main campus that would repeat the experiments with toddlers and infants. 

            One of the more common scenarios involved presenting participants with situations in which tools could help achieve an outcome. Toddlers won out against chimps time and again, but it planted the seed for Oller’s academic career, as he began pursuing the seemingly simple, yet infinitely difficult question of “How do we think?”           

About Dr. Stephen Oller

            Oller has been a faculty member at A&M-Kingsville since fall 2005. He has co-authored three books—Autism: The Diagnosis, Treatment & Etiology of the Undeniable Epidemic; Cases: An Introduction to Speech, Language and Hearing Disorders; and Milestones: Normal Speech and Language Development Across the Life Span. He has a book in-progress, Theory to Practice: Language Disorders in Children, which he is co-authoring. He also has authored and co-authored a number of refereed journal articles, nonrefereed articles and monographs. 

            Among the conferences he has presented at are the Sertoma International Conference on Autism Spectrum Disorders, the annual meeting of the International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association, the annual meeting of the American Speech/Language and Hearing Association, and the annual meetings of both the Texas and Louisiana Speech Language and Hearing Associations. 

            Oller is a member of both the American and Texas State Speech/Language and Hearing Associations.  

            Among Oller’s service activities at A&M-Kingsville, he currently is a member of the Institutional Review Board for Research and Human Subjects, and a member of the College of Arts and Sciences 1201 Course Development Committee.  

            Oller holds a Ph.D. in Applied Language and Speech Sciences, and a Bachelor of Science (Cum Laude) in Psychology, with a minor in English, both from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.                                                       


This page was last updated on: April 09, 2012