Original paper

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 37, Issue 9, pp 1721-1734

First online:

Predictors of Language Acquisition in Preschool Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Audrey ThurmAffiliated withPediatric and Developmental Neuropsychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health Email author 
  • , Catherine LordAffiliated withUniversity of Michigan Autism and Communication Disorders Center (UMACC), University of Michigan
  • , Li-Ching LeeAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University
  • , Craig NewschafferAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Drexel University School of Public Health

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In 118 children followed from age 2 to 5 (59 with autism, 24 with PDD-NOS and 35 with non-spectrum developmental disabilities), age 2 and age 3 scores of non-verbal ability, receptive communication, expressive communication and socialization were compared as predictors of receptive and expressive language at age 5. Non-verbal cognitive ability at age 2 was generally the strongest predictor of age 5 language, while at age 3 communication scores were a stronger predictor of age 5 language for children with autism. Early joint attention as well as vocal and motor imitation skills were more impaired in children who did not develop language by age 5 (but had relatively strong non-verbal cognitive skills) than in children who did develop language by 5.


Autism Language Preschool Predictors Outcome