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J Autism Dev Disord. 2013 Sep;43(9):2062-81. doi: 10.1007/s10803-012-1753-z.

Profound expressive language impairment in low functioning children with autism: an investigation of syntactic awareness using a computerised learning task.

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Department of Psychology, University of Edinburgh, 7 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9QU, Scotland, UK.


Nine low-functioning children with profound expressive language impairment and autism were studied in terms of their responsiveness to a computer-based learning program designed to assess syntactic awareness. The children learned to touch words on a screen in the correct sequence in order to see a corresponding animation, such as 'monkey flies'. The game progressed in levels from 2 to 4 word sequences, contingent upon success at each stage. Although performance was highly variable across participants, a detailed review of their learning profiles suggested that no child lacked syntactic awareness and that elementary syntactic control in a non-speech domain was superior to that manifest in their spoken language. The reasons for production failures at the level of speech in children with autism are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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