This study examined the language patterns of parents of 10 autistic children and parents of 10 normal children who were matched with the autistic children for language age, sex, and parents' educational level. Syntatic and functional aspects of parental language were assessed during a 20-minute interaction before the parents of the autistic children participated in a behaviorally oriented treatment program. Few significant differences emerged between the language of the parents of the autistic and normal children. The parents of the autistic children used more non-language-oriented language but did not differ from the parents of the normal children in the percentage scores for any language category. Also, although the parents of the autistic children spoke more often, complexity of language, as measured by mean length of utterance, was comparable across the groups. Several differences emerged between mothers' and fathers' language patterns. These results suggest that parents of autistic children provide language environments similar to those experienced by normal children in the initial stages of language development and that mothers and fathers play different roles in their child's language environment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology