Sentence repetition in adolescents with specific language impairments and autism: an investigation of complex syntax
Riches, N. G., Loucas, T., Baird, G., Charman, T. and Simonoff, E. (2010) Sentence repetition in adolescents with specific language impairments and autism: an investigation of complex syntax. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 45 (1). pp. 47-60. ISSN 1368-2822
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To link to this article DOI: 10.3109/13682820802647676
Background: Recent studies have indicated that many children with autism spectrum disorders present with language difficulties that are similar to those of children with specific language impairments, leading some to argue for similar structural deficits in these two disorders. Aims: Repetition of sentences involving long-distance dependencies was used to investigate complex syntax in these groups. Methods & Procedures: Adolescents with specific language impairments (mean age = 15;3, n = 14) and autism spectrum disorders plus language impairment (autism plus language impairment; mean age = 14;8, n = 16) were recruited alongside typically developing adolescents (mean age = 14;4, n = 17). They were required to repeat sentences containing relative clauses that varied in syntactic complexity. Outcomes & Results: The adolescents with specific language impairments presented with greater syntactic difficulties than the adolescents with autism plus language impairment, as manifested by higher error rates on the more complex object relative clauses, and a greater tendency to make syntactic changes during repetition. Conclusions & Implications: Adolescents with specific language impairments may have more severe syntactic difficulties than adolescents with autism plus language impairment, possibly due to their short-term memory limitations.