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Speech and language profiles in 4- to 6-year-old children with early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder without intellectual disability

Authors Kjellmer L, Fernell E, Gillberg C, Norrelgen F

Received 23 April 2018

Accepted for publication 17 July 2018

Published 20 September 2018 Volume 2018:14 Pages 2415—2427


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder

Liselotte Kjellmer,1,2 Elisabeth Fernell,2 Christopher Gillberg,2 Fritjof Norrelgen2–4

1Department of Special Education, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden; 2Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden; 3Functional Area Speech and Language Pathology, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden; 4Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

Purpose: This study aimed to present speech and language data from a community-representative group of 4- to 6-year-old children with early-diagnosed autism spectrum disorder (ASD) without intellectual disability (ID).
Methods: The study group comprised 83 children 4–6 years of age with ASD without ID. They had been diagnosed with ASD before age 4.5 years and had received intervention at a specialized habilitation center. At 2-year follow-up, their language abilities were evaluated comprehensively by two speech–language pathologists using a battery of assessments. Receptive and expressive language and phonology were examined. The phonology evaluation included measures of phonological speech production and of phonological processing.
Results: Results revealed that almost 60% had moderate–severe language problems. Nearly half exhibited combined expressive and receptive language problems, of which a majority also had phonology problems. Phonological speech problems were found in 21% of the total group.
Conclusion: The findings underscore the importance of considering speech/language disorders in children with ASD without ID, since they usually attend mainstream classes but need specific educational adaptations.

Keywords: autism spectrum disorder, language, speech, language disorders, speech–language pathology

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