Communicative, Social/Affective, and Symbolic Profiles of Young Children With Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders Research on children with autism and pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) has identified deficits and differences in social-communicative and related symbolic abilities. This includes a limited range of communicative functions, limited ability to use conventional preverbal and verbal means of communicating, lack of pretend play, and limited use of shared positive ... Research Article
Research Article  |   May 01, 1998
Communicative, Social/Affective, and Symbolic Profiles of Young Children With Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Amy M. Wetherby
    Florida State University, Tallahassee
  • Barry M. Prizant
    Emerson College, Boston, MA
  • Thomas A. Hutchinson
    Applied Symbolix Publishing Group, Chicago, IL
  • Contact author: Amy M. Wetherby, PhD, Department of Communication Disorders, RRC-318, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-1200
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Research Articles
Research Article   |   May 01, 1998
Communicative, Social/Affective, and Symbolic Profiles of Young Children With Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, May 1998, Vol. 7, 79-91. doi:10.1044/1058-0360.0702.79
History: Received June 16, 1997 , Accepted December 15, 1997
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, May 1998, Vol. 7, 79-91. doi:10.1044/1058-0360.0702.79
History: Received June 16, 1997; Accepted December 15, 1997

Research on children with autism and pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) has identified deficits and differences in social-communicative and related symbolic abilities. This includes a limited range of communicative functions, limited ability to use conventional preverbal and verbal means of communicating, lack of pretend play, and limited use of shared positive affect and eye gaze to regulate communicative interactions. However, most previous research has studied older preschool and school-age children and has measured one aspect of social skills. This study examined developmental profiles of two groups of young children with atypical language development using the Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales (CSBS; Wetherby & Prizant, 1993). One group had been diagnosed with PDD (APA, 1994) and the second group had developmental language delays where the diagnosis of PDD had been ruled out. The results indicated that CSBS profiles of the group with PDD reflected a distinct pattern of relative strengths and weaknesses that was substantially different from the other group on 15 of the 22 CSBS scales. Significant differences were found in the clusters of communicative functions, gestural communicative means, reciprocity, social/affective signaling, and symbolic behavior. The younger children in the PDD group showed results similar to the older children, with more pronounced deficits in vocal and verbal means. Correlational findings indicate three clusters of impairments involving joint attention, symbolic play, and social/affective signaling. The implications of these findings are discussed in regard to earlier identification and intervention planning.

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