Language Outcomes of Toddlers With Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Two Year Follow-Up

Document Type


Publication Date



Thirty-seven children 15–25 months of age received clinical diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and were re-evaluated two years later. All subjects were judged to have retained a diagnosis of ASD at the follow-up evaluation. Communication scores for the group as a whole during the first visit were significantly lower than nonverbal IQ. However, by the second visit, verbal and nonverbal scores were no longer significantly different. The group was divided into two subgroups, based on expressive language (EL) outcome at the second visit. The two groups were similar in the second year of life in terms of expressive communication skills and autistic symptoms, except for a trend toward more stereotypic and repetitive behavior in the worse outcome group. By the second visit, however, the groups differed significantly on all standard measures of expression and reception, as well as on autistic symptomotology and nonverbal IQ. When assessed during their second year, children who ended up in the better outcome group showed higher average nonverbal cognitive level, receptive language (RL) scores, number of sounds and words produced, use of symbolic play schemes, and response to joint attention bids. Regression analysis revealed that the variables for which significant differences between the two outcome groups in their second year of life were found provided significant prediction of EL outcome at age four. Stepwise regression identified RL and presence of stereotypic and repetitive at the first visit as significantly associated with EL outcome. Implications of these findings for early identification and intervention are discussed.


Originally published:

Paul, Rhea, Chawarska, Katarzyna, Cicchetti, Domenic, Volkmar, Fred. "Language Outcomes of Toddlers With Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Two Year Follow-Up." Autism Research 1.2 (2008): 97-107.

DOI: 10.1002/aur.12