Defining language impairments in a subgroup of children with autism spectrum disorder
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CitationHelen Tager-Flusberg. 2015. "Defining language impairments in a subgroup of children with autism spectrum disorder.." Sci China Life Sci, Volume 58, Issue 10, pp. 1044 - 1052.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is diagnosed on the basis of core impairments in pragmatic language skills, which are found across all ages and subtypes. In contrast, there is significant heterogeneity in language phenotypes, ranging from nonverbal to superior linguistic abilities, as defined on standardized tests of vocabulary and grammatical knowledge. The majority of children are verbal but impaired in language, relative to age-matched peers. One hypothesis is that this subgroup has ASD and co-morbid specific language impairment (SLI). An experiment was conducted comparing children with ASD to children with SLI and typically developing controls on aspects of language processing that have been shown to be impaired in children with SLI: repetition of nonsense words. Patterns of performance among the children with ASD and language impairment were similar to those with SLI, and contrasted with the children with ASD and no language impairment and typical controls, providing further evidence for the hypothesis that a subgroup of children with ASD has co-morbid SLI. The findings are discussed in the context of brain imaging studies that have explored the neural bases of language impairment in ASD and SLI, and overlap in the genes associated with elevated risk for these disorders.