Expressive and Receptive Language in Russian Primary-School-Aged Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Background: Abnormal language development in both expressive and receptive domains occurs in most children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), although the language deficit is not a core symptom of ASD. However, previous studies disagree on the difference in the degree of impairment between expressive and receptive language in ASD. Existing research has concentrated on vocabulary and ‘global expressive and receptive language’, often using parental reports for language assessment. Moreover, most of these studies have focused on toddlers and preschoolers with ASD, whereas data from school-aged children with ASD are very limited. At the same time, the age of children might account for the inconsistencies across publications on expressive-receptive language difference in children with ASD.
Aims: The goal of the study was to directly compare the expressive and receptive language abilities of Russian primary-school-aged children with ASD (7–11 years old) at the levels of vocabulary, morphosyntax, and discourse.
Methods: 82 children with ASD participated in language testing. We used tests from the Russian Child Language Assessment Battery in order to assess vocabulary, morphosyntax, and discourse in expressive and receptive domains.
Results: Our results revealed different expressive and receptive patterns, depending on the linguistic level and tests complexity. Importantly, we showed that children’s non-verbal IQ partly accounted for the difference between production and comprehension abilities.
Conclusions: The expressive-better-than-receptive pattern in language has been considered by some authors as the unique hallmark of ASD. However, several studies, including our own, show that this is not a universal characteristic of ASD. We also revealed that expressive and receptive language patterns differed depending on the linguistic level, children’s non-verbal IQ, and assessment tools.