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J Autism Dev Disord. 2008 Apr;38(4):616-25. Epub 2007 Aug 25.

Differentiating autism and Asperger syndrome on the basis of language delay or impairment.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


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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