A Comparison of Pragmatic Language in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Typically Developing Children.
Background: Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) present with difficulties using pragmatic language and the use of speech acts in social communication is an important indicator of pragmatic skills. Speech acts are associated with the communication intent, performed during conversation, and the acquisition of speech acts is different in children with ASD versus typically developing children (TDC) (Adams 2002). Objective: This study compared the pragmatic language in language matched children with ASD and TDC. Methods: Participants consisted of 21 mother-child dyads aged 12-74 months with ASD (n=10) and TDC (n=11). A language sample was obtained from the Child Language Data Exchange System, the ‘Nadig Corpus’ was chosen and the transcripts from this data base were analysed focusing on speech acts between both groups of children and their mothers. Results: Typically Developing Children produced a higher frequency of speech acts in comparison to the ASD children. The ASD group produced more variety of speech acts when compared to the TDC. There were no differences in the variety of parental speech acts. The ASD parents produced a greater number of imperatives in comparison to the TDC mothers. Conclusion: The findings from the study have highlighted the differences between children with ASD and TDC in their use of speech acts, it emphasises the importance of parental input and identifies strategies and interventions for enhancing child language development.