Measuring and supporting language function for children with autism: evidence from a randomized control trial of a social-interaction-based therapy

J Autism Dev Disord. 2015 Mar;45(3):846-57. doi: 10.1007/s10803-014-2242-3.


In a report of the effectiveness of MEHRIT, a social-interaction-based intervention for autism, Casenhiser et al. (Autism 17(2):220-241, 2013) failed to find a significant advantage for language development in the treatment group using standardized language assessments. We present the results from a re-analysis of their results to illustrate the importance of measuring communicative language acts (formally called "speech acts"). Reanalysis confirmed that children in the MEHRIT group outperformed the community treatment group on measures of MLUm, number of utterances produced, and various speech act categories. The study underscores the importance of functional language measures in guiding and evaluating treatment for children with autism, and suggests that MEHRIT is effective in improving children's use of language during parent-child interactions.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / rehabilitation*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Language Development
  • Language Therapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Speech Therapy / methods*