Article  |   October 2009
Communicative Acts of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders in the Second Year of Life
Author Notes
  • Contact author: Stacy Shumway, Pediatric & Developmental Neuroscience Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, 10 Center Drive, MSC 1255, Building 10, Room 4N208, Bethesda, MD 20892-1255. E-mail: shumways@mail.nih.gov.
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Early Identification & Intervention / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Language Disorders / Social Communication & Pragmatics Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language
Article   |   October 2009
Communicative Acts of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders in the Second Year of Life
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research October 2009, Vol.52, 1139-1156. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/07-0280)
History: Accepted 14 Jan 2009 , Received 21 Dec 2007 , Revised 24 Jul 2008
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research October 2009, Vol.52, 1139-1156. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/07-0280)
History: Accepted 14 Jan 2009 , Received 21 Dec 2007 , Revised 24 Jul 2008

Purpose: To examine the communicative profiles of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in the second year of life.

Method: Communicative acts were examined in 125 children 18 to 24 months of age: 50 later diagnosed with ASD; 25 with developmental delays (DD); and 50 with typical development (TD). Precise measures of rate, functions, and means of communication were obtained through systematic observation of videotaped behavior samples from the Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales Developmental Profile (A. Wetherby & B. Prizant, 2002).

Results: Children with ASD communicated at a significantly lower rate than children with DD and TD. The ASD group used a significantly lower proportion of acts for joint attention and a significantly lower proportion of deictic gestures with a reliance on more primitive gestures compared with the DD and TD groups. Children with ASD who did communicate for joint attention were as likely as other children to coordinate vocalizations, eye gaze, and gestures. Rate of communicative acts and joint attention were the strongest predictors of verbal outcome at age 3.

Conclusion: By 18 to 24 months of age, children later diagnosed with ASD showed a unique profile of communication, with core deficits in communication rate, joint attention, and communicative gestures.

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