A research conducted by Ericka Wodka et al. (2013) challenged the previously held belief that inidividuals on the Autism Spectrum who have not developed spoken language by age 4 will not be able to do so at all in the future. The research included 535 children aged 8-17, with a diagnosis of ASD and have severe language delays at age 4. At age 4, the participants’ language delays ranged from not speaking at all to speaking a few phrases.
The results showed that most of the participants were able to acquire spoken language after the age of four. In fact, 70% of the participants were able to speak in meaningful phrases while 47% attained fluent speech. One should note that the study also found that the ability to aqcuire speech is positively correlated to non-verbal I.Q. and social skills. In other words, the higher one’s non-verbal I.Q. is, and the higher their social skills are, the more likely they will be to achieve fluent speech.
This indeed is a great finding since it shows individuals with ASD, their parents and practitioners that language development does not stop when they reach four years of age. Guided by the data from this study, professionals should focus their interventions on improving children with ASD’s social and non-verbal cognitive skills.
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