The acquisition of language skills by autistic children: Can parents do the job?

Sandra L. Harris, Sharlene A. Wolchik, Steven Weitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations


The mothers and fathers of 11 preschool autistic children were taught operant procedures used in teaching speech to nonverbal children. The children's speech skills were assessed twice before and once after their parents were trained. At posttreatment, the children showed significant gains in prespeech and speech skills as measured by a 21-step hierarchy of speech behaviors. Those children who had acquired at least verbal imitative skill after training made greater progress than those who had not. Although children maintained their gains in a 1-year follow-up assessment, there was no evidence of significant improvement beyond that achieved at the end of training. The importance of support for parents in continuing to do formal "teaching" after the training program ends was stressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-384
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1982


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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