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Characteristics of Communication

Children with disorders along the autistic spectrum have difficulty with verbal, nonverbal, and symbolic communication skills. In fact, for a child to be diagnosed Autistic, the current DSM-IV-TR Diagnostic Criteria require that they meet at least one of the following qualitative impairments in social interaction:

    1. delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language (not accompanied by an attempt to compensatethrough alternative modes of communication such as gesutre or mime.)
    2. in individuals with adequate speech, marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
    3. stereotyped and repetitve use of lanuage or idiosyncratic language
    4. lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play or social imatative play appropriate to developmental level

Birth - 1 Year

1 - 3 Years

3 Years and Older

  • infrequent or absent hand gestures (such as pointing)
  • does not begin to attempt to speak
  • does not begin to imitate parent or caregiver
  • little or no speech
  • Echolalia is common - the repetition of words or phrases without regard to immediate context
  • does not engage in pretend play or make-believe
  • Failure to use expressive gestures
  • Difficulty understanding jokes or games
  • speech is "flat", with very little intonation
  • does not understand non-verbal social interaction (appropriate to age level)
  • Difficulty with theory of mind - the ability to see a situation from another's point of view
  • Pronoun reversal is common