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Imitation and language abilities in adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder without language delay

Authors
  • Freitag, Christine M.1
  • Kleser, Christina1
  • von Gontardf, Alexander1
  • 1 Saarland University Hospital, Dept. of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Homburg, Saar, 66421, Germany , Homburg (Germany)
Type
Published Article
Journal
European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Mar 22, 2006
Volume
15
Issue
5
Pages
282–291
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s00787-006-0533-8
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

IntroductionDifficulties imitating gestures have been found in several studies in children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). It has been hypothesized that imitation abilities might be precursors of language abilities in young children with autism. No study on imitation and language abilities in adolescents with ASD has been performed to date.MethodsFifteen male adolescents with ASD, 16 male and 13 female controls were compared regarding imitation abilities of upper and lower facial movements, and language skills as assessed by the pragmatic rating scale and the Aachen Aphasia test (AAT).ResultsAutism Spectrum Disorder subjects showed reduced imitation abilities of facial movements and non-meaningful combined hand-and-finger gestures. Regarding language, ASD subjects showed difficulties in AAT spontaneous speech measures and reduced pragmatic language abilities. Correlations of imitation and language measures differed between ASD, male and female controls.ConclusionThe weak and differential correlations of imitation and language measures in the three comparison groups might imply a differential organization of language and imitation networks in the three comparison groups. Pragmatic abilities, which are a central feature in ASD, were not related to imitation abilities. Therefore, imitation and language abilities in ASD might not be as closely correlated as previously expected.

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