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UNLABELLED: Some children with autism demonstrate poor nonword repetition--a deficit considered to be a psycholinguistic marker of specific language impairment (SLI). The present study examined whether there is an SLI subtype among children with autism. We compared the language abilities of children with SLI (n=34, M age=11;10 S.D.=2;3), and children with autism with (Apoor, n=18, M age=10;11 S.D.=3;1) and without (Aapp, n=16, M age=10;8 S.D.=2;7) structural language difficulties. Participants were administered battery of standardized language and memory tests. Although there were some similarities in the language profile of the SLI and Apoor groups, the two groups differed on the tests of oromotor ability and verbal short-term memory and showed a different pattern of errors on the nonword repetition task. These findings providing evidence against the idea of an SLI subtype in autism. Further analyses suggested that the nonword repetition deficits experienced by some children with autism may arise when there is substantial impairment in multiple autistic domains. LEARNING OUTCOMES: Readers will be introduced to (a) the current state of behavioral, cognitive and genetic research that has investigated the relation between SLI and autism, and (b) three hypotheses of why there exists similarity in the language characteristics of children with SLI and autism. Readers will then be taken through a detailed comparison of the language and memory abilities of group of children with each diagnosis. A theoretical model that seeks to explain the relation between these two disorders will be discussed.

Original publication




Journal article


J Commun Disord

Publication Date





319 - 336


Adolescent, Articulation Disorders, Autistic Disorder, Child, Female, Humans, Language Development Disorders, Language Tests, Male, Memory, Short-Term, Phonetics, Semantics, Verbal Learning