Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 36, Issue 8, pp 993–1005

Early Predictors of Communication Development in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Joint Attention, Imitation, and Toy Play

  • Karen Toth
  • Jeffrey Munson
  • Andrew N. Meltzoff
  • Geraldine Dawson
Original Paper

Abstract

This study investigated the unique contributions of joint attention, imitation, and toy play to language ability and rate of development of communication skills in young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Sixty preschool-aged children with ASD were assessed using measures of joint attention, imitation, toy play, language, and communication ability. Two skills, initiating protodeclarative joint attention and immediate imitation, were most strongly associated with language ability at age 3–4 years, whereas toy play and deferred imitation were the best predictors of rate of communication development from age 4 to 6.5 years. The implications of these results for understanding the nature and course of language development in autism and for the development of targeted early interventions are discussed.

Keywords

Autism Language Communication Joint attention Imitation Play 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen Toth
    • 1
  • Jeffrey Munson
    • 1
  • Andrew N. Meltzoff
    • 1
  • Geraldine Dawson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, UW Autism Center, CHDDUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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