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Early Language Patterns of Toddlers on the Autism Spectrum Compared to Toddlers with Developmental Delay

Abstract

This study characterized early language abilities in toddlers with autism spectrum disorders (n = 257) using multiple measures of language development, compared to toddlers with non-spectrum developmental delay (DD, n = 69). Findings indicated moderate to high degrees of agreement among three assessment measures (one parent report and two direct assessment measures). Performance on two of the three measures revealed a significant difference in the profile of receptive–expressive language abilities for toddlers with autism compared to the DD group, such that toddlers with autism had relatively more severe receptive than expressive language delays. Regression analyses examining concurrent predictors of language abilities revealed both similarities in significant predictors (nonverbal cognition) and differences (frequency of vocalization, imitation) across the diagnostic groups.

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Acknowledgments

These data were collected with support from NIMH R01 MH81873 and Autism Speaks. Additionally, partial support for preparation of this article was provided by NIDCD R01DC007223 and the NICHD P30 HD03352. We also wish to express our sincere thanks to the children and parents who participated in this research.

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Correspondence to Susan Ellis Weismer.

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Ellis Weismer, S., Lord, C. & Esler, A. Early Language Patterns of Toddlers on the Autism Spectrum Compared to Toddlers with Developmental Delay. J Autism Dev Disord 40, 1259–1273 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-010-0983-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-010-0983-1

Keywords

  • Autism
  • Language
  • Developmental delay
  • Assessment
  • Predictors