Advances in Neurodevelopmental Disorders

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 29–37 | Cite as

Comparing the Mullen Scales of Early Learning and the Preschool Language Scale—Fifth Edition for Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Emma Riley
  • Jessica PaynterEmail author
  • Linda Gilmore


Communication is a key area for early intervention for pre-schoolers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Therefore, there is a need for reliable and valid communication assessment measures for this population. Two commonly used measures are the language scales of the Mullen Scales of Early Learning (MSEL) and the Preschool Language Scale—Fifth Edition (PLS—5). To date, limited research has compared these. The aim of the present study was to investigate the similarities and differences in scores on the two instruments for children with ASD and those who were developing typically. The MSEL and the PLS—5 assessments were administered to 49 pre-schoolers including 24 children with ASD and 25 typically developing (TD) children. Language scores on the MSEL and PLS—5 were highly correlated within each group. As expected, children with ASD performed significantly lower on both language measures compared to children who were developing typically. Children from both groups performed higher on the PLS—5 than the MSEL on the expressive language scale, and typically developing children also performed higher on the receptive language scale. Limitations and future directions for research in terms of test selection are discussed.


Autism spectrum disorders Mullen Scales of Early Learning Preschool Language Scale – 5 Language assessments Early intervention 



The authors thank the AEIOU Foundation for providing data for the ASD sample, as well as all the families who contributed questionnaires and the children who completed assessments as part of this project.

Author Contributions

ER collaborated with designing the study, collected data for the study, entered/extracted data, analysed the results and prepared the initial manuscript. JP provided supervision to ER for data collection, analysis, and manuscript preparation; initiated the study design and collaborated in writing, revising, and editing the final manuscript. LG provided supervision to ER for data collection, analysis and manuscript preparation and collaborated in writing and editing of the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Ethics approval was granted by Queensland University of Technology Ethics (Protocol Number 1500001048) and access to the ASD data was granted by the Research Advisory Group at the AEIOU Foundation. Signed informed consent was obtained from parents of all participating children and assent was obtained from children.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Queensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.AEIOU FoundationBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Menzies Health Institute QueenslandGriffith UniversityGold CoastAustralia

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