A Comparison of Pragmatic Language in Boys With Autism and Fragile X Syndrome Purpose Impaired pragmatic language (i.e., language use for social interaction) is a hallmark feature of both autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and fragile X syndrome (FXS), the most common known monogenic disorder associated with ASD. However, few cross-population comparisons of ASD and FXS have been conducted, and it is unclear whether ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 2014
A Comparison of Pragmatic Language in Boys With Autism and Fragile X Syndrome
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jessica Klusek
    Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Gary E. Martin
    Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Molly Losh
    Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Molly Losh: m-losh@northwestern.edu
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Joanne Volden
    Associate Editor: Joanne Volden×
Article Information
Special Populations / Genetic & Congenital Disorders / Autism Spectrum / Language Disorders / Social Communication & Pragmatics Disorders / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 2014
A Comparison of Pragmatic Language in Boys With Autism and Fragile X Syndrome
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2014, Vol. 57, 1692-1707. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-L-13-0064
History: Received March 14, 2013 , Revised October 1, 2013 , Accepted February 20, 2014
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2014, Vol. 57, 1692-1707. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-L-13-0064
History: Received March 14, 2013; Revised October 1, 2013; Accepted February 20, 2014
Web of Science® Times Cited: 10

Purpose Impaired pragmatic language (i.e., language use for social interaction) is a hallmark feature of both autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and fragile X syndrome (FXS), the most common known monogenic disorder associated with ASD. However, few cross-population comparisons of ASD and FXS have been conducted, and it is unclear whether pragmatic language profiles in these conditions overlap.

Method The authors used seminaturalistic and standardized assessment methods to characterize pragmatic language abilities of 29 school-aged boys with idiopathic ASD, 38 with FXS and comorbid ASD, 16 with FXS without ASD, 20 with Down syndrome, and 20 with typical development.

Results Similar severity of pragmatic language deficits was observed in both of the groups with ASD (idiopathic and fragile X-associated). ASD comorbidity had a detrimental effect on the pragmatic language skills of the boys with FXS. Some different patterns emerged across the two pragmatic assessment tools, with more robust group differences observed in pragmatics assessed in a seminaturalistic conversational context.

Conclusion These findings have implications for pragmatic language assessment and intervention, as well as for understanding the potential role of the fragile X gene, Fragile X Mental Retardation-1, in the pragmatic language phenotype of ASD.

Acknowledgments
This article was completed as part of the first author's doctoral dissertation, which was supported in part by the James J. Gallagher Dissertation Award of Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. This work was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grants R01HD0388190-62A, R01HD038819-09S1, and R01HD044935-06A; the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grants 1R01DC010191-01A1 and R03DC010880; the National Institute of Mental Health Grant R01MH091131-01A1; the National Fragile X Foundation; the Ireland Family Foundation; and the Research Participant Registry Core of the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities Grant P30HD03110. We would like to thank Linda Watson, Heather Cody Hazlett, and Jane Roberts for their comments on an earlier version of this article, Abigail Hogan-Brown for her assistance with the pragmatic language coding, Christine Rothermel for her help with the tables, and John Sideris for his guidance on the statistical analyses. We also thank Rebecca Landa for permitting our use of the Pragmatic Rating Scale—School Age in this project and for providing training and guidance on its implementation. We gratefully acknowledge the late Joanne Roberts, who was awarded the original National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grants that supported the initial phases of this research, and the children and families who participated.
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