Speech Acts and the Pragmatic Deficits of Autism In a videotaped free-play session with a parent, autistic children were compared with mental-age matched Developmental Language Delay (DLD) children and with normally developing (ND) 2-year-olds in the use of communicative acts by parent and child. Groups were matched for language level. Autistic children had more incidents of no responses, ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 1988
Speech Acts and the Pragmatic Deficits of Autism
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Katherine A. Loveland
    University of Texas Medical School at Houston
  • Susan H. Landry
    University of Texas Medical Branch—Galveston
  • Sheryl O. Hughes
    University of Houston, University Park
  • Sharon K. Hall
    University of Houston, University Park
  • Robin E. McEvoy
    University of Houston, University Park
Article Information
Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 1988
Speech Acts and the Pragmatic Deficits of Autism
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1988, Vol. 31, 593-604. doi:10.1044/jshr.3104.593
History: Received June 20, 1986 , Accepted February 16, 1988
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1988, Vol. 31, 593-604. doi:10.1044/jshr.3104.593
History: Received June 20, 1986; Accepted February 16, 1988

In a videotaped free-play session with a parent, autistic children were compared with mental-age matched Developmental Language Delay (DLD) children and with normally developing (ND) 2-year-olds in the use of communicative acts by parent and child. Groups were matched for language level. Autistic children had more incidents of no responses, produced less affirming, turn-taking vocalization, and gesture, and were less likely to initiate communication than other children. Parent groups differed only in a greater amount of initiating and use of imperatives by parents of autistic children. Few relations between parent behaviors and child behaviors were found. Nonresponses by all children were concentrated subsequent to parent imperatives and questions, but no group differences were found in the distribution of nonresponses to various parent communicative acts. Results are interpreted to support the hypothesis that autistic children's language can serve a number of useful functions but that their pattern of language functions differs from that of nonautistic language-impaired children and much younger normal children of similar language level.

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