Language Processing in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Insights from Neuroscience Language is an area of difficulty even for verbal, high-functioning individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Behavioral measures have provided limited understanding of the bases for these differences, as verbal individuals with ASD frequently score within the average range on standardized language measures, even as they have difficulty with the ... Article
Article  |   August 01, 2012
Language Processing in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Insights from Neuroscience
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Diane L. Williams
    Department of Speech-Language Pathology, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Disclosure: Diane L. Williams receives grant funds from the National Institutes of Health as a Co-Principal Investigator
    Disclosure: Diane L. Williams receives grant funds from the National Institutes of Health as a Co-Principal Investigator×
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Normal Language Processing / Articles
Article   |   August 01, 2012
Language Processing in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Insights from Neuroscience
SIG 1 Perspectives on Language Learning and Education, August 2012, Vol. 19, 98-107. doi:10.1044/lle19.3.98
SIG 1 Perspectives on Language Learning and Education, August 2012, Vol. 19, 98-107. doi:10.1044/lle19.3.98

Language is an area of difficulty even for verbal, high-functioning individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Behavioral measures have provided limited understanding of the bases for these differences, as verbal individuals with ASD frequently score within the average range on standardized language measures, even as they have difficulty with the comprehension and use of language in daily life. Positron emission tomography (PET) scanning has yielded some insight into the neurofunctional basis of linguistic processing in ASD but has limited application due to the need for intravenous injection of a chemical radiotracer. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a noninvasive methodology that has provided an unprecedented opportunity to examine the underlying neural processing while an individual performs a cognitive task. FMRI studies have been completed with young children, adolescents, and adults with ASD using a variety of language tasks. These studies have revealed differences in the way individuals with ASD process language even without differences in behavioral performance. Although still preliminary, these results provide speech-language pathologists with valuable insight into the cognitive processing challenges associated with ASD that can inform the design of interventions to address the problems individuals with ASD have in the comprehension and production of language.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by Award Number P50HD055748 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. The content is solely the responsibility of the author and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development or the National Institutes of Health.
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