, Volume 37, Issue 7, pp 1323-1336
Date: 16 Dec 2006

Communicative Competence in Parents of Children with Autism and Parents of Children with Specific Language Impairment

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While the primary language deficit in autism has been thought to be pragmatic, and in specific language impairment (SLI) structural, recent research suggests phenomenological and possibly genetic overlap between the two syndromes. To compare communicative competence in parents of children with autism, SLI, and down syndrome (DS), we used a modified pragmatic rating scale (PRS-M). Videotapes of conversational interviews with 47 autism, 47 SLI, and 21 DS parents were scored blind to group membership. Autism and SLI parents had significantly lower communication abilities than DS parents. Fifteen percent of the autism and SLI parents showed severe deficits. Our results suggest that impaired communication is part of the broader autism phenotype and a broader SLI phenotype, especially among male family members.