Social-Cognitive and Speech Sound Production Abilities of Minimally Verbal Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders

Maysoon F. Biller, Cynthia J. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose To date, there has been a dearth of systematic research that examines both social-cognitive (SC) and speech sound production (SSP) abilities simultaneously in minimally verbal (MV) children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Such an analysis would allow a unified and comprehensive view of the children's communication abilities. The purpose of this study was to develop detailed descriptive profiles of MV children with ASD and uncover patterns in their SC and SSP abilities that may pertain to spoken language. Method This study was a descriptive, multiple clinical case study that examined 5 MV children with ASD, 4 boys and 1 girl, aged 3-6 years. The case studies consisted of demographic information, parent report, and formal and informal assessment of the children. Four SC abilities and 3 SSP abilities were assessed. Results The 5 children's SC score, SSP score, and number of spoken words were converted to z scores. This analysis revealed 2 different patterns of development: 3 of the children had lower SC than SSP abilities, and 2 of the children had the reverse pattern. Conclusions The 5 children were low in both SC and SSP abilities. Although both domains were low, the measure that coincided most with spoken vocabulary among the 5 children was their SSP abilities. Specifically, the children had difficulty in demonstrating emerging control of the onset of voicing for specific speech sounds and verbal imitation of single speech sounds and syllables. Clinical implications of simultaneously assessing and treating SC and SSP abilities in MV children are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-393
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican journal of speech-language pathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 27 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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