New article in: Dovepress, Volume 2018:14, Pages 2415—2427

by Liselotte Kjellmer (Department of Special Education, Stockholm University), Elisabeth Fernell (Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg University), Christopher Gillberg (Functional Area Speech and Language Pathology, Karolinska University Hospital) and Fritjof Norrelgen (Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet).


Purpose: This study aimed to present speech and language data from a community-representative group of 4- to 6-year-old children with early-diagnosed autism spectrum disorder (ASD) without intellectual disability (ID).

Methods: The study group comprised 83 children 4–6 years of age with ASD without ID. They had been diagnosed with ASD before age 4.5 years and had received intervention at a specialized habilitation center. At 2-year follow-up, their language abilities were evaluated comprehensively by two speech–language pathologists using a battery of assessments. Receptive and expressive language and phonology were examined. The phonology evaluation included measures of phonological speech production and of phonological processing.

Results: Results revealed that almost 60% had moderate–severe language problems. Nearly half exhibited combined expressive and receptive language problems, of which a majority also had phonology problems. Phonological speech problems were found in 21% of the total group.

Conclusion: The findings underscore the importance of considering speech/language disorders in children with ASD without ID, since they usually attend mainstream classes but need specific educational adaptations.