Brief Report: Pragmatic Language in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Relationships to Measures of Ability and Disability

  • Joanne Volden
  • Jamesie Coolican
  • Nancy Garon
  • Julie White
  • Susan Bryson
Brief Report


Pragmatic language skill is regarded as an area of universal deficit in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), but little is known about factors related to its development and how it in turn might contribute to skills needed to function in everyday contexts or to the expression of ASD-related symptoms. This study investigated these relationships in 37 high-functioning children with ASD. Multiple regression analyses revealed that structural language skills significantly predicted pragmatic language performance, but also that a significant portion of variance in pragmatic scores could not be accounted for by structural language or nonverbal cognition. Pragmatic language scores, in turn, accounted for significant variance in ADOS Communication and Socialization performance, but did not uniquely predict level of communicative or social adaptive functioning on the Vineland. These findings support the notion of pragmatic language impairment as integral to ASD but also highlight the need to measure pragmatic skills in everyday situations, to target adaptive skills in intervention and to intervene in functional, community-based contexts.


Pragmatic language Structural language Adaptive function Severity of symptoms 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joanne Volden
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jamesie Coolican
    • 3
  • Nancy Garon
    • 3
    • 4
  • Julie White
    • 1
  • Susan Bryson
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Speech Pathology and AudiologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Autism Research Institute of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  4. 4.IWK Health CentreHalifaxCanada
  5. 5.Departments of Pediatrics and PsychologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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