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Profiles Of Communicative And Cognitive-Social Abilities In Autistic Children

Amy Miller Wetherby, Carol A. Prutting

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The purpose of this study was to examine profiles of communicative and cognitive-social abilities in a small group of autistic children functioning in the prelinguistic and early stages of language development and to compare them with those of normal children functioning at similar stages of language development. The results of measures in the cognitive-social areas of communicative intent, tool use, imitation, and play and in language comprehension demonstrated uneven development for the autistic subjects. A functional analysis of communicative behaviors indicated that, despite a wide variation in communicative means, the autistic subjects displayed a relatively homogeneous profile of communicative functions that was both quantitatively and qualitatively different from the normal profile. Explanations for the heterochrony in communicative and cognitive-social development of these autistic children are discussed.