Social Functioning Predicts Language Development in Children with AutismJune 10, 2013 • Contributed by Jen Wilson, GoodTherapy.org Correspondent
Autism (ASD) first manifests in early childhood and is identified through developmental markers. Children who develop ASD all have different outcomes, with some exhibiting mild ASD symptoms and others experiencing significant impairments to social, verbal, cognitive, and communication abilities.
Early identification of ASD is critical, as language and communication skills are acquired in the first few years of life. Children who are diagnosed with ASD early can receive interventions and treatment that could improve their language and communication skills. This early treatment can serve to improve well-being and overall functioning throughout an individual’s life.
One way to determine course trajectory of ASD is to assess language acquisition and word processing as a predictor of later impairment. Therefore, Patricia K. Kuhl of the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences at the University of Washington in Washington State evaluated the word processing abilities of 24 children with ASD when they were 2 years old. She then assessed them again when they were 4 and 6 years old. At the follow-ups, the children were evaluated for language ability, cognitive functioning, behavior and communication.
Kuhl found that the children with more severe social impairments had lower word processing skills at age 2 when compared to control subjects. When she looked at the children several years later, Kuhl discovered that lower language acquisition and larger social impairments were predictive of behavior, communication and social challenges at age 4 and 6. This is an important finding as it demonstrates that social impairments influence language skills at an early age and are predictive of future cognitive deficits for children with ASD.
The finding that language acquisition is impaired in children with ASD at age 2 is in line with word processing trajectories in general. In fact, experts agree that vocabulary expansion occurs most rapidly during this time. Barriers to vocabulary acquisition and expansion at this age can have long-lasting effects and appear to be strong indicators of future communication problems. Kuhl added, “To the extent that aspects of language learning are time sensitive, early diagnosis of ASD is vitally important, allowing treatment interventions as early in development as possible.”
Kuhl, P.K., Coffey-Corina, S., Padden, D., Munson, J., Estes, A., et al. (2013). Brain responses to words in 2-year-olds with autism predict developmental outcomes at age 6. PLoS ONE 8(5): e64967. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0064967
© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.
StephenJune 10th, 2013 at 8:55 PM
You know markers such as language and word development are a good way to see if there could be a problem.Nit just from the scientific point of view but also because this is something that anybody can recognize and not just the professionals.A parent with no knowledge of autism can also well recognize that there are language deficits and could then consult a professional thereby quickening the diagnosis.
CarolineJune 11th, 2013 at 4:12 AM
Delays in vocab development is an integral part of many learning diabilities. It makes sense that this could also be a very early marker of the development of autism too
Kris PJune 11th, 2013 at 3:00 PM
I know that this is good information but there are gonna be some parents who will take this and run, and who will begin to assume that just because their child does not have the wide ranging vocabulary that other kids the same age as theirs are prone to having autism.
We just need to be careful that information like this does not scare people and that they understand that just because one thing might be true that the other necessarily is not. I know how people are- they will jump to all sorts of conclusions without ever even consulting with their pediatrician.
Leave a Comment
By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of GoodTherapy.org's Terms and Conditions of Use.
Search Our Blog
- Rebecca: how DO we survive this grief and carry on shirly o i am despondent. wedding anniversary today. :.(….. can’t go on without...
- Karen: I wake and go to sleep with missing and loving him every day and night it just gets harder and it’s been nearly eighteen months since...
- On the Front Line: I wish people who think a “picking disorder” is a habit could see first hand what a “picking disorder”...
- kerry: Yes – this is a great forum and has helped me a lot. My relationship with my man who is 14 yrs younger than me, is still going strong...
- secrets and lies: Hi…I am also 24 and dating a 35year old guy.we have been together for eight months now.the time we meet he said he has onky...