Pragmatic language deficits are becoming more apparent and can be seen early on in life in individuals who present with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Asperger Syndrome (AS), and Social Communication Disorder (SCD) or Pragmatic Language Impairment (PLI). As our awareness and understanding of social communication disorders advance, so does our assessment and treatment of social language impairments. The current study aims to explore how paralinguistic cues (i.e., facial expressions, intonation/prosody), affective expression, and social context skills develop across the lifetime in students who are typically developing and students with ASD, AS, and PLI. The Clinical Assessment of Pragmatics (CAPs) was given to all students to assess current pragmatic language function. Four subtests from the CAPs were comparatively analyzed in individuals between the ages of 7:0 to 15:11 who present as: typically developing, present with PLI, and present with high functioning autism (HFA). The four key constructs analyzed for the purpose of this study include: affective expression, paralinguistic decoding, paralinguistic signals, and social context appraisal. Results of the current study revealed significant differences in both the typically developing group and PLI group across all ages in nonverbal language (paralinguistic decoding and paralinguistic signals) and social competence (affective expressive and social context appraisal) tasks. Additionally, the current study revealed that students with PLI disorder acquire social language skills in a similar pattern to typically developing students, however, at a delayed rate. Students with HFA did not appear to follow the same pattern of social language acquisition as typically developing students. Students with PLI and HFA may differ in their understanding and acquisition of nonverbal and social competence skills.
Published Date: 2019-11-08; Received Date: 2019-09-20