Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp 337–351

Linguistic negation in autistic and normal children

  • Theodore Shapiro
  • Richard Kapit


Young, severely maladaptive autistic children with some speech competence were compared to normally developing 3-year-old children of lower and middle class and 5-year-olds of lower class on negation tasks. All subjects were shown 12 sets of cards depicting negative contrasts designed to elicit semantic categories of nonexistence, denial, and rejection and were tested for production, imitation, and comprehension. Syntactic and semantic analysis revealed that autistic children were superior imitators and poor producers but showed skills in comprehension comparable to a 4-year-old's level of functioning. While retarded in some functions, the experimental group produced syntactic structures that were more rigid, suggesting the significantly greater use of imitation as a major strategy in linguistic coding.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theodore Shapiro
    • 1
  • Richard Kapit
    • 2
  1. 1.Child and Adolescent PsychiatryCornell University Medical CenterNew York
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatrySt. Elizabeth's HospitalWashington, D.C.

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