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.
Article Information
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: Received December 21, 2007 , Revised July 24, 2008 , Accepted January 14, 2009
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2009, Vol. 52, 1139-1156. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/07-0280)
History: Received December 21, 2007; Revised July 24, 2008; Accepted January 14, 2009
Web of Science® Times Cited: 21

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.

Acknowledgments
This study is based on the first author’s dissertation, completed at Florida State University.
This research was supported in part by Grant 1R01DC007462 from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and Grant H324C030112 from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services. This work was written in part at the National Institute of Mental Health, where the first author currently works, and was not written as part of her official duties as a government employee. The views expressed in this article are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Education, the National Institutes of Health, or the U.S. government. We thank the families who gave their time to participate in this project.
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