This article summarizes current knowledge about language and communication impairments in children who have autism spectrum disorders. It reviews the language profiles that may be observed during the toddler and preschool years and in school-aged children and discusses receptive and expressive language skills that may be quite variable across the spectrum and the universal impairments in pragmatic aspects of language that are among the defining characteristics of the disorder. It concludes with clinical recommendations for pediatric screening of autism spectrum disorders and for continued monitoring of language difficulties in older children for whom interventions may be critical for enhancing effective communication in everyday life.
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"These follow-up procedures were carried out for the following reasons: (1) to rule out the possibility that individuals who have difficulty detecting metaphors have lower verbal IQ compared to the general population; (2) to ensure that ''metaphor blind'' individuals on average do not have lower verbal IQ than control participants from the UC San Diego student population; (3) finally, by having control participants with the lowest verbal IQs complete the metaphorical and literal sentences and score within a normal statistical range, this would provide further evidence that ''metaphor blindness'' is not a phenomenon pertaining simply to low verbal IQ and task difficulty. Given that the reduced ability to detect metaphors has been found in clinical populations such as patients with lesions in the left IPL , and individuals with schizophrenia , and that language impairment is associated with Pervasive Developmental Disorders , it was important to obtain detailed case histories of our ''metaphor blind'' participants. As mentioned, none of our 8 participants had any neurological or psychiatric history (except for one individual with a current GAD diagnosis), including language impairment, dyslexia, or signs of late language onset. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previous research from our group suggests that patients with lesions in the left inferior parietal lobule (IPL)-which is concerned with abstract numerical cognition and cross-modal association (which is consistent with its strategic location at the crossroads between the temporal, parietal and occipital lobes) have difficulty understanding proverbs and metaphors (Ramachandran and Hubbard, 2001). In the current pilot investigation, we report "metaphor blindness" in a college student population; that is, either the complete inability or difficulty for otherwise intellectually non-challenged individuals to comprehend metaphors of language. Participants (N=205) read 12 metaphorical ("The detective jumped at the clue") and 12 literal ("The accident was a fall") sentences and had to decide whether the sentences conveyed a metaphorical or literal meaning. The mean accuracy for these metaphorical sentences was 11.0 (SD=2.3; RNG=0-12); the mean accuracy for literal sentences was 7.2 (SD=1.8; RNG=2-10). We found that 5% of participants (11/205) were unable or had difficulty understanding metaphors (i.e., were statistical outliers), while their score for literal sentences felt within a normal statistical range M=8.3 (SD=2.3; RNG=5-10). Follow-up control procedures were conducted in order to help ascertain that the results were not due to low verbal IQ and task difficulty. Likewise, none of the "metaphor blind" participants reported any psychiatric or neurological histories that would impair language comprehension, including strokes, brain injuries, language problems dyslexia, and signs of late language onset. The results are very preliminary and future studies are needed to confirm these findings. We suggest that brain modules may be specialized even for subtle functions like metaphor and their formation in embryogenesis may be controlled by small handfuls of genes whose expression can go awry-as in "metaphor blindness".
Medical Hypotheses 02/2014; 82(6). DOI:10.1016/j.mehy.2014.01.033 · 1.07 Impact Factor
"Core symptoms of autism generally represent an aberrant social development, possibly of congenital origin (Grossman et al. 1997). Evaluation of autistic hallmarks seems to be complicated since a high percentage of patients suffers from mental retardation and different levels of communicative impairment (Baron-Cohen et al. 1999; Lord and Volkmar 2002), which may vary from complete lack of functional language to diverse weakness in verbally mediated tasks, although sometimes language skills can be normal (Tager-Flusberg and Joseph 2003; Bennett et al. 2007; Tager-Flusberg and Caronna 2007). Likewise, it is rarely diagnosed before 3 years of age due to the fact that early indicators of autism, such as abnormal social interaction and unusual playing behavior, are not detectable at ages younger than 14 months (Landa et al. 2007). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication accompanied with repetitive behavioral patterns and unusual stereotyped interests. Autism is considered a highly heterogeneous disorder with diverse putative causes and associated factors giving rise to variable ranges of symptomatology. Incidence seems to be increasing with time, while the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms remain virtually uncharacterized (or unknown). By systematic review of the literature and a systems biology approach, our aims were to examine the multifactorial nature of autism with its broad range of severity, to ascertain the predominant biological processes, cellular components, and molecular functions integral to the disorder, and finally, to elucidate the most central contributions (genetic and/or environmental) in silico. With this goal, we developed an integrative network model for gene-environment interactions (GENVI model) where calcium (Ca2+) was shown to be its most relevant node. Moreover, considering the present data from our systems biology approach together with the results from the differential gene expression analysis of cerebellar samples from autistic patients, we believe that RAC1, in particular, and the RHO family of GTPases, in general, could play a critical role in the neuropathological events associated with autism.
Neuromolecular medicine 03/2013; 15(2):364-383. DOI:10.1007/s12017-013-8224-3 · 3.68 Impact Factor
"The latter are generally described as preoccupations, restricted and repetitive behavior, compulsions, stereotypes, and limited interests   . The terminology most often used to describe the limited interests of individuals with autism spectrum disorders includes narrow interests , ritualistic interests , circumscribed interests , and perseverative interests . As stated into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV , markedly restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of interests, behavior, and activities are one of the criteria for diagnosing autism spectrum disorders. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Incorporating the interests and preferences of young children with autism spectrum disorders into interventions to promote prosocial behavior and decrease behavior excesses has emerged as a promising practice for addressing the core features of autism. The efficacy of interest-based early intervention practices was examined in a meta-analysis of 24 studies including 78 children 2 to 6 years of age diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. Effect size analyses of intervention versus nonintervention conditions and high-interest versus low-interest contrasts indicated that interest-based intervention practices were effective in terms of increasing prosocial and decreasing aberrant child behavior. Additionally, interest-based interventions that focused on two of the three core features of autism spectrum disorders (poor communication, poor interpersonal relationships) were found most effective in influencing child outcomes. Implications for very early intervention are discussed in terms addressing the behavior markers of autism spectrum disorders before they become firmly established.