Evidence for Distinct Cognitive Profiles in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Specific Language Impairment
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Findings that a subgroup of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have linguistic capabilities that resemble specific language impairment (SLI) have led some authors to hypothesise that ASD and SLI have a shared aetiology. While considerable research has explored overlap in the language phenotypes of the two conditions, little research has examined possible overlap in cognitive characteristics. In this study, we explored nonword and sentence repetition performance, as well as performance on the Children’s Embedded Figures Test (CEFT) for children with ASD or SLI. As expected, ‘language impaired’ children with ASD (ALI) and children with SLI performed worse than both ‘language normal’ ASD (ALN) and typically developing (TD) children on the nonword and sentence repetition tests. Further, the SLI children performed worse than all other groups on the CEFT. This finding supports distinct cognitive profiles in ASD and SLI and may provide further evidence for distinct aetiological mechanisms in the two conditions.