The Window to Language is Still Open: Distinguishing Between Preverbal and Minimally Verbal Children With ASD While a large number of preschool age children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) use no or little spoken language, only a portion will remain minimally verbal into elementary school. Determining whether a child is likely to remain minimally verbal past the preschool years is of great importance to families and ... Article
Article  |   March 31, 2016
The Window to Language is Still Open: Distinguishing Between Preverbal and Minimally Verbal Children With ASD
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Charlotte DiStefano
    Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
  • Connie Kasari
    Human Development and Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
  • Financial Disclosure: Charlotte DiStefano is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles. Connie Kasari is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. The writing of this article was made possible by an Autism Speaks Meixner Postdoctoral Fellowship in Translational Science to Dr. DiStefano and NICHD RO1HD073975 to Dr. Kasari.
    Financial Disclosure: Charlotte DiStefano is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles. Connie Kasari is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. The writing of this article was made possible by an Autism Speaks Meixner Postdoctoral Fellowship in Translational Science to Dr. DiStefano and NICHD RO1HD073975 to Dr. Kasari.×
  • Nonfinancial Disclosure: The authors have previously published in the subject area.
    Nonfinancial Disclosure: The authors have previously published in the subject area.×
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Part 1
Article   |   March 31, 2016
The Window to Language is Still Open: Distinguishing Between Preverbal and Minimally Verbal Children With ASD
Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, March 2016, Vol. 1, 4-11. doi:10.1044/persp1.SIG1.4
History: Received September 10, 2015 , Revised November 14, 2015 , Accepted November 19, 2015
Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, March 2016, Vol. 1, 4-11. doi:10.1044/persp1.SIG1.4
History: Received September 10, 2015; Revised November 14, 2015; Accepted November 19, 2015

While a large number of preschool age children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) use no or little spoken language, only a portion will remain minimally verbal into elementary school. Determining whether a child is likely to remain minimally verbal past the preschool years is of great importance to families and clinicians, and can inform intervention efforts. Evidence from both behavioral and neuroimaging studies provide support for the idea that minimally verbal children with ASD have specific and unique expressive language deficits and are not simply at an earlier stage of language development. Intervention that focuses on pre-linguistic skills, such as joint attention, gestures, and vocalizations can be effective to increase language in pre- and minimally verbal children with ASD. The use of speech generating devices (SGD) has also been shown to support spoken language development in this population. Although many preschool aged children with ASD are using no or very little language, many of these children are in fact pre-verbal, and will continue to develop language skills. Targeted intervention, including a focus on pre-linguistic communication and SGD, will help support their language development.

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