June 15, 2009

Tool helps gauge autistic language skills

Canadian researchers say a questionnaire could help parents gauge language skills of their autistic children.

A report by a panel of experts commissioned to evaluate the questionnaire by the U.S. National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders in Bethesda, Md., is published in the Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research.

This is very exciting news, questionnaire developer Daniela O'Neill of the University of Waterloo in Ontario says in a statement. This report will be of tremendous help to researchers, clinicians and speech-language professionals involved in intervention with young children with autism.

The questionnaire, The Language Use Inventory, provides a set of measures for evaluating spoken language development in children with autism spectrum disorders. Parents are asked about their child's use of language in many different kinds of settings.

One area of testing in The Language Use Inventory is pragmatic language development how young children are able to use their language in everyday interactions, the study says.

The pragmatics of language can be an area of great difficulty for children with autism, O'Neill says.