Residual Language Deficits in Optimal Outcome Children with a History of Autism

  • Elizabeth Kelley
  • Jennifer J. Paul
  • Deborah Fein
  • Letitia R. Naigles


This study examined whether language deficits persist even in children with optimal outcomes. We examined a group of children with prior diagnoses on the autism spectrum who had IQs in the normal range, were in age-appropriate mainstream classes, and had improved to such an extent that they were considered to be functioning at the level of their typically developing peers. Fourteen such children between the ages of five and nine were matched on age and sex with typically developing children, and were given a battery of 10 language tests to investigate their language abilities. Results indicated that while these children’s grammatical capabilities are mostly indistinguishable from their peers, they are still experiencing difficulties in pragmatic and semantic language.


Outcome HFA Language Semantics Pragmatics 



We would like to thank the University of Connecticut Small Grant program for supporting this research. We greatly appreciate all the parents and children for their cheerful participation. Thank you to Anna Janovicz, who was extremely helpful in the collection and analysis of the data, Lara Mayeux, Donna Vear, and Tony Sharillo for help in the data collection process, and Jennifer Mangini for her help with reliability coding. We would also like to thank Jill deVilliers and Susan Gelman for their gracious sharing of stimuli for the Complex Syntax and Categorical Induction tasks, respectively.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth Kelley
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jennifer J. Paul
    • 1
    • 3
  • Deborah Fein
    • 1
  • Letitia R. Naigles
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Colorado Health Sciences CenterDenverUSA

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