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Imitation and communication skills development in children with pervasive developmental disorders

Authors De Giacomo A, Claudia Portoghese, Martinelli D, Fanizza I, L'Abate L, Margari L

Published 18 June 2009 Volume 2009:5 Pages 355—362

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S5679

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2


Andrea De Giacomo1, Claudia Portoghese1, Domenico Martinelli2, Isabella Fanizza1, Luciano L’Abate3, Lucia Margari1

1Child Neurological and Psychiatric Unit, Department of Neurological and Psychiatric sciences, University of Bari, Italy; 2Department of Biomedical science and Oncology, University of Bari, Italy; 3Department of Psychology, Georgia State University

Abstract: This study evaluates the correlation between failure to develop spontaneous imitation and language skills in pervasive developmental disorders. Sixty-four children between the age of 3 and 8 years were assessed using the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R), the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS), and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), as well as direct observation of imitation. The sample was subdivided into a verbal and a nonverbal group. Analysis of mean scores on the CARS “imitation” items and of ADI-R “spontaneous imitation” and “pointing to express interest” revealed a statistically significant difference between verbal and nonverbal groups, with more severe impairment/higher scores in the nonverbal than the verbal group. These results suggest that nonverbal children have specifically impaired imitation and pointing skills.

Keywords: autism, imitation, communication, language, pointing

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