International Meeting for Autism Research: Receptive and Expressive Language in Autism

Receptive and Expressive Language in Autism

Thursday, May 20, 2010
Franklin Hall B Level 4 (Philadelphia Marriott Downtown)
9:00 AM
A. M. Girardot , Hopital sainte marguerite, Marseille, France
S. De Martino , Hopital Sainte Marguerite, Marseille, France
C. Chatel , Hopital Sainte Marguerite, Marseille, France
D. Da Fonseca , Hopital Sainte Marguerite, Marseille, France
V. Rey , Hopital Sainte Marguerite, Marseille, France
F. Poinso , Hopital Sainte Marguerite, Marseille, France
Background: The language development in autistic children is largely described as impaired in literature (DSM IV), but few relationships are established between different domains of language development. In typical child, pointing appears before naming. In autistic children, the naming and the pointing are heterogeneous.

Objectives: The purpose of our study is to observe the linguistic particularities in autism. Does the language acquisition respect the, even late, typical development? Furthermore, are there correlations between the capacities in picture naming or word identification and others domains as: cognitive level, structural language, pointing and echolalia in children with autism?   

Methods: 27 autistic verbal children participated in this study. Patients were recruited from the « Autism Resource Center » of Psychiatric Unit of Ste Marguerite Hospital in Marseille (France). A first group is constituted by autistic children with mental delay and a second group by autistic children without cognitive delay. Every child is tested on a word identification task and on a picture naming task (from the WPPSI III). 
For every child, we observe the structural level of language, the pointing skills (no pointing, imperative pointing, or declarative pointing) and the presence of echolalia.

Results: Preliminary results reveal that all the autistic children have better performances in the picture naming task than in word identification task. We find a correlation between language structural level and echolalia in autistic children with mental delay. However none of these two factors has any correlation with picture naming.
In high-level autistic children, there is a correlation between VIQ and picture naming, between PIQ and word identification, between structural level and picture naming, and between pointing and structural level.

Conclusions: The autistic children name more easily than they identify the words. The scores in word identification are not correlated with level of pointing. We can not thus explain the low performances on the word identification task by the low skills in pointing.  We also suggest that the difficulties result of the use of pointing in communicative situation.
In children without deficit, the results in word identification task are correlated with the perceptive reasoning skills. The identification task seems implicate perceptive reasoning processes while naming task implies verbal reasoning.

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