Delayed language onset as a predictor of clinical symptoms in pervasive developmental disorders Academic Article uri icon


  • DSM-IV states that Asperger Disorder may be distinguished from Autistic Disorder by a lack of a delay in early language development. The aim of this study was to establish whether the presence or absence of early language delay would predict autistic symptomatology in children diagnosed with a PDD/autism spectrum disorder. Forty-six language-delayed and 62 normal language onset individuals (M age 11 years) were compared on ICD-10 research criteria and DSM-IV criteria, receptive language, and developmental history variables. Retrospective data were also obtained to determine whether language onset predicted autism symptomatology when young (< 6 years). We found that early language delay predicts more autistic symptomatology when young, but not at an older age. Early language delay is also associated with developmental motor milestone delays and lower receptive language abilities. The results question the use of early language delay as a valid discriminating variable between PDD subgroups.

publication date

  • 1998