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Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 37, Issue 6, pp 1007–1023 | Cite as

Beyond Pragmatics: Morphosyntactic Development in Autism

  • Inge-Marie Eigsti
  • Loisa Bennetto
  • Mamta B. Dadlani
Original Paper

Abstract

Language acquisition research in autism has traditionally focused on high-level pragmatic deficits. Few studies have examined grammatical abilities in autism, with mixed findings. The present study addresses this gap in the literature by providing a detailed investigation of syntactic and higher-level discourse abilities in verbal children with autism, age 5 years. Findings indicate clear language difficulties that go beyond what would be expected based on developmental level; specifically, syntactic delays, impairments in discourse management and increased production of non-meaningful words (jargon). The present study indicates a highly specific pattern of language impairments, and importantly, syntactic delays, in a group of children with autism carefully matched on lexical level and non-verbal mental age with children with developmental delays and typical development.

Keywords

Autism Language acquisition Syntax Vocabulary Pragmatics 

Notes

Acknowledgement

This research was supported by the NIMH (R03 grant # MH61032-01), a Young Investigator award from the Journal of Language Learning, and a Dissertation Award from the Society for Science of Clinical Psychology, to IME. We are especially grateful to the parents and children that participated in the study.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Inge-Marie Eigsti
    • 1
    • 3
  • Loisa Bennetto
    • 1
  • Mamta B. Dadlani
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in PsychologyUniversity of RochesterRochesterUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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