Language and Speech Abnormalities 1 Characteristics

Parenting Children With Asperger's And High-functioning Autism

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It is the delay or regression of language, usually at approximately age 2, that first prompts parents to seek professional help. Although such delays are significant indicators of problems in child development, they are not specific to autism and are commonly found in many other childhood disorders (e.g., general language delay). By itself, language delay does not account for most of the features of the disorder but can be used as a metric for predicting developmental outcome. For example, several studies have shown that autistic children without speech by age 5 are much less likely to live independently later in life than children with functional speech. Also, the presence or absence of language has often been used to distinguish "high" from "low" functioning autism. The understanding of language abnormalities in autism, however, is critical for the development of appropriate treatment approaches, offers insights into the relationship between various symptoms in the disorder (e.g., between play and language skills), and is an excellent domain for fMRI studies investigating neurofunction-al organization in autism.

It is commonly noted that 50% of individuals with autism fail to develop functional speech. For those that do, speech is often characterized as rigid and stereotyped, in which a word or phrase is used in limited contexts and verbal routines may be used to serve the individual's communicative needs. More specific aspects of language, such as syntax, have been examined by investigating the presence of grammatical morphemes during continuous speech. Comparing children with autism to those of similar ages, syntax is

Timecourse of ICA Components Spatial Maps of ICA Components

Timecourse of ICA Components Spatial Maps of ICA Components

Timefms)

Figure 2 ICA decomposition waveforms and source maps for control, autistic, and cerebellar groups. ICA analyses were performed on grand average ERPs during a spatial attention task. ICA identified the P3f (P3 frontal) occurring at approximately 300 msec, the P3b occurring at approximately 400 msec, and the Pmp (postmotor potenential) occurring at approximately 500 msec for the normal control subjects, but it identified the absence of the P3f for autistic and cerebellar groups (from Westerfield, M., Townsend, J., and Courchesne, E., unpublished data).

Timefms)

Figure 2 ICA decomposition waveforms and source maps for control, autistic, and cerebellar groups. ICA analyses were performed on grand average ERPs during a spatial attention task. ICA identified the P3f (P3 frontal) occurring at approximately 300 msec, the P3b occurring at approximately 400 msec, and the Pmp (postmotor potenential) occurring at approximately 500 msec for the normal control subjects, but it identified the absence of the P3f for autistic and cerebellar groups (from Westerfield, M., Townsend, J., and Courchesne, E., unpublished data).

severely deviant. Comparisons with mental age matches, however, suggest minimal differences between groups.

Autism is also characterized by several unusual applications of language, such as the repetition of words previously heard (either immediate or delayed) —a characteristic known as "echolalia." For example, an autistic child might repeat a phrase heard earlier on television, such as "You are the next contestant on the Price is Right!'' several times throughout the day. Research has suggested that this unique form of communication may in fact serve very specific functions, such as such signifying confusion or requesting clarification. One study found that children with autism were more likely to engage in immediate echolalia in response to questions or commands they did not understand. Once the children learned the correct answer, rates of echolalia dramatically decreased. Other interesting aspects of language use in autism include pronoun reversals (e.g., saying "you want cookies'' instead of "I want cookies'') and the use of neologisms or nonsensical words. Combined with such unique uses of language are the often noted patterns of odd intonation and tone, usually in the form of monotony.

There is evidence that communication deficits in autism are related to the failure of preverbal mechanisms thought to be important to the development of language pragmatics, such as joint attention described previously. Furthermore, a strong relationship exists between social nonverbal communication and the level of language development in autism. That is, children with autism who display signs of nonverbal communication behaviors during social interactions (e.g., gesture and gaze) develop more receptive language than those that do not. Interestingly, however, the fluid and persistent use of the pragmatics of language persist as an enduring problem, even for autistic individuals who do develop functional speech.

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Funny Wiring Autism

Funny Wiring Autism

Autism is a developmental disorder that manifests itself in early childhood and affects the functioning of the brain, primarily in the areas of social interaction and communication. Children with autism look like other children but do not play or behave like other children. They must struggle daily to cope and connect with the world around them.

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