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Differentiating Autism and Asperger Syndrome on the Basis of Language Delay or Impairment

Abstract

Asperger syndrome (AS) is differentiated from high-functioning autism (HFA) largely on a history of “language delay.” This study examined “specific language impairment” as a predictor of outcome. Language skills of 19 children with AS and 45 with HFA were assessed at 4–6 years of age (Time 1) and 2 years later (Time 2). Children’s symptoms and functional outcome scores were assessed every 2 years (Times 3, 4, and 5) until ages 15–17 years old. Regression analysis revealed that specific language impairment at time 2 more often accounted for the greatest variation in outcome scores in adolescence than the standard diagnosis of AS versus HFA based on history of language delay. Diagnostic implications are discussed.

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Acknowledgment

This research project was funded by the Ontario Mental Health Foundation. We would like to acknowledge the children and families who have participated so faithfully in this project over several years.

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Correspondence to Peter Szatmari.

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Bennett, T., Szatmari, P., Bryson, S. et al. Differentiating Autism and Asperger Syndrome on the Basis of Language Delay or Impairment. J Autism Dev Disord 38, 616–625 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-007-0428-7

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Keywords

  • Autism
  • Asperger syndrome
  • Language impairment
  • Outcomes