Reluctance to use spoken language: A case study of an autistic boy
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The purpose of this single case study was to assess the language impairments of a 15 year old autistic boy (Jamie) who displayed various language abilities but was reluctant to use them. The study was under taken as Jamie is an example of an autistic child that lies in between being classified as strictly verbal or nonverbal. Research took place over eight sessions in which a variety of methods were used. Analysis assessed grammatical structure abilities, comprehension and production abilities, novel sentence construction, descriptive vocabulary, verbal and nonverbal production timings and standardised measures of vocabulary and intelligence. The results showed Jamie significantly benefited from grammatical structure when recalling word strings (t (35) = 4.45, p < .01). His use of syntax was primitive and he was reluctant to use longer elaborate word strings when describing stimuli. Significant differences in production times with and without a verbal component revealed a significant delay with articulation (t (3) = 3.70, p < .05).The conclusions made were that both social and cognitive impairments contribute to Jamie’s lack of spoken language. Social impairments compromise his ability to use syntactic structures to construct sophisticated phrases with which to communicate effectively. Cognitive impairments have resulted in a delay in articulation which may also be present at a higher level of language production.