Imitation and communication skills development in children with pervasive developmental disorders
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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