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Res Dev Disabil. 2012 Jan-Feb;33(1):172-80. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2011.09.003. Epub 2011 Oct 4.

Language and communication skills in preschool children with autism spectrum disorders: contribution of cognition, severity of autism symptoms, and adaptive functioning to the variability.

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  • 1Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre, Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg, Sweden. liselotte.kjellmer@karolinska.se

Abstract

This study examined the contribution of cognitive function, severity of autism, and adaptive functioning to the variability in language and communication skills in 129 preschool children (aged 24-63 months) with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Participants were selected from a representative research cohort of 208 preschool children on the basis of caregiver completion of the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories (CDI). The children were classified into three cognitive groups: (a) Normal intelligence; (b) Developmental delay; and (c) Intellectual disability. Autism symptom severity was measured by the Autistic Behavior Checklist (ABC), and adaptive functioning by the Daily Living Skills (DLS) and Socialization (Soc) subscales from the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales. For each of five CDI variables (Phrases understood, Words understood, Words produced, Gestures and actions, and Language use), the contribution of cognition, severity of autism symptoms, and adaptive functioning to the variability was examined. Cognition and age explained about half or more of the variance in the four verbal language CDI variables, but only about one fourth of the variance in the non-verbal communication variable Gestures and actions. Severity of autism symptoms and the two adaptive measures (DLS and Soc) each only accounted for a few percent more of the variance in the four CDI language variables; however, for Gestures and actions, an additional 11-21% of the variance was accounted for. In conclusion, for children with ASD, receptive and expressive language is mainly related to cognitive level, whereas non-verbal communication skills seem to also be related to severity of autism symptoms and adaptive functioning.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

PMID:
22093662
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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