Speech following sign language training in autistic children with minimal verbal language

J Autism Dev Disord. 1988 Jun;18(2):217-29. doi: 10.1007/BF02211948.


This study was carried out to test the main and interaction effects of training condition and pretreatment-elicited verbal imitation ability when predicting spoken language use during language training of 60 minimally verbal autistic children. Subjects were randomly assigned to Speech Alone, Sign Alone, Simultaneous Presentation of Sign and Speech, and Alternating Presentation of Sign and Speech training conditions. Speech Alone, Simultaneous Presentation, and Alternating Presentation condition facilitated more child-initiated speech during treatment than did the Sign Alone condition. Regardless of training condition, pretreatment verbal imitation ability positively predicted the size of child-initiated spoken vocabulary observed during training. Exploratory analyses indicated that, in addition to verbal imitation, pretreatment age and IQ may also predict spoken language developed during training.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / rehabilitation*
  • Autistic Disorder / therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Imitative Behavior
  • Language Therapy*
  • Manual Communication*
  • Sign Language*
  • Vocabulary