Objective The study was to examine nonverbal communication in young children with autism. Methods The participants were 23 young children with autism (mean CA = 32.79 months), 23 CA and MA-matched children with developmental delay and 22 18–20-month-old, and 22 13–15-month-old typically developing toddlers and infants. The abbreviated Early Social Communication Scales [Mundy et al. 1996, Early social communication scales (ESCS)] were used to test three types of nonverbal communicative skills, i.e., joint attention, requesting, and social interaction. Both frequency and proportion analyses were done in group comparisons. Results (1) Two- to three-year-old children with autism displayed deficits in joint attention ability, especially high-level skills. (2) The deficit in terms of frequency of communication was marked even compared with typically developing infants with younger mental age. (3) Young children with autism had different nonverbal communication profile compared with all three comparison groups. Conclusion Early social-communicative difficulties in autism involve early triadic communications involving joint attention and possibly dyadic turn-taking skills, which has implications for both early screening and early intervention.
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This research was part of dissertation by the first author, and part of the autism projects by the first two authors. The studies were supported by National Science Council in Taiwan (NSC-88-2413-H002-008, NSC-89-2413-H002-53 and NSC-92-2413-194-031). Dr. Rogers was supported in part by the National Institute of Child and Human Development award #HD35468 in USA. We thank Chi-Lin Huang for help data collection, and the children and their parents whose participation made the study possible.
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Chiang, CH., Soong, WT., Lin, TL. et al. Nonverbal Communication Skills in Young Children with Autism. J Autism Dev Disord 38, 1898–1906 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-008-0586-2