Speaking the same language? A preliminary investigation, comparing the language and communication skills of females and males with high-functioning autism

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Understanding the nature of language and communication disorders in High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (HFASD) populations may provide insight into why females are more likely than males to go undiagnosed. Language and communication skills were compared between 13 females and 13 males (aged 8.11-10.11) with HFASD. Gender-normative data was also ascertained from 26 typically developing children (TD) matched for age and gender. All children had typical range PIQ, slight variation here was controlled for in analysis. Results show females outperforming males in pragmatic and semantic tasks and in certain language-of-emotion tasks. TDs outperformed HFASD in above-sentence level tasks, but not in basic vocabulary or sentence level tasks. This study highlights specific strengths / weaknesses in language and communication for female HFASD, which could aid more accurate identification of the female autistic phenotype.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Article numberhttps://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-019-03920-6)
Pages (from-to)1639–1656
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Early online date4 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2019

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