Original Paper

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 40, Issue 10, pp 1259-1273

First online:

Early Language Patterns of Toddlers on the Autism Spectrum Compared to Toddlers with Developmental Delay

  • Susan Ellis WeismerAffiliated withDepartment of Communicative Disorders and Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison Email author 
  • , Catherine LordAffiliated withUniversity of Michigan Autism and Communication Disorders Center (UMACC), University of Michigan
  • , Amy EslerAffiliated withDepartment of Communicative Disorders and Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-MadisonDepartment of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota

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This study characterized early language abilities in toddlers with autism spectrum disorders (n = 257) using multiple measures of language development, compared to toddlers with non-spectrum developmental delay (DD, n = 69). Findings indicated moderate to high degrees of agreement among three assessment measures (one parent report and two direct assessment measures). Performance on two of the three measures revealed a significant difference in the profile of receptive–expressive language abilities for toddlers with autism compared to the DD group, such that toddlers with autism had relatively more severe receptive than expressive language delays. Regression analyses examining concurrent predictors of language abilities revealed both similarities in significant predictors (nonverbal cognition) and differences (frequency of vocalization, imitation) across the diagnostic groups.


Autism Language Developmental delay Assessment Predictors