Assessing Communication in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Who Are Minimally Verbal

  • David TrembathEmail author
  • Jessica Paynter
  • Rebecca Sutherland
  • Helen Tager-Flusberg
Communication Disorders (J Sigafoos, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Communication Disorders


Purpose of review

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who are minimally verbal may often require timely and tailored intervention to optimize their short- and long-term communication outcomes. Effective intervention relies on appropriate and accurate assessment. The purposes of this review are to summarize current and emerging issues and practices in the assessment of these children and to consider implications for research and clinical practice.

Recent findings

There is growing awareness of the need for improved assessment practices and emerging consensus regarding principles that should underpin the assessment process. Enhanced use of existing assessment tools, as well adoption of emerging tools, has the potential to improve practice. However, there remains a general lack of specific, sensitive, and clinically useful tools for this population.


Although the importance of appropriate assessment for children with ASD who are minimally verbal is well established, there remains a critical need for concerted effort to enhance approaches currently available.


Autism Communication Assessment Prelinguistic Minimally verbal Language 



The writing of this review was informed by research completed as part of a research project aimed at supporting best practice in the assessment and treatment of children with ASD who are minimally verbal, funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services. We would like to acknowledge the children, parents, clinicians, educators, and researchers at the six Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centres (ASELCCS) in Australia and researcher colleagues at Griffith University, La Trobe University, and the University of New South Wales.

Funding Information

David Trembath was supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council ECR Fellowship (GNT1071811). The paper was also supported by funding (to HTF) from the National Institutes of Health (P50 DC 13027) and the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (Award # 624201).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

David Trembath reports grants from National Health and Medical Research Council (GNT1071811) and grants from Australian Department of Social Services during the conduct of the study. Jessica Paynter and Rebecca Sutherland report grants from the Australian Department of Social Services. Helen Tager-Flusberg reports grants from the National Institutes of Health (P50 DC 13027) and the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (Award # 624201).

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Trembath
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jessica Paynter
    • 1
  • Rebecca Sutherland
    • 2
    • 3
  • Helen Tager-Flusberg
    • 4
  1. 1.Menzies Health Institute QueenslandGriffith UniversitySouthportAustralia
  2. 2.Australian Capital TerritoryUniversity of CanberraCanberraAustralia
  3. 3.Children’s Hospital at WestmeadWestmeadAustralia
  4. 4.Boston UniversityBostonUSA

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