New tool key in evaluating language skills in autistic kids

June 11th, 2009

WASHINGTON - Researchers from University of Waterloo have developed a parent questionnaire that will help doctors to accurately gauge language development in children with autism.

Language Use Inventory (LUI) is among a set of measures for evaluating spoken language development in children with autism spectrum disorders, recommended by an expert panel.

The LUI is a standardized questionnaire that asks parents about their child’s use of language in many different kinds of settings.

“The LUI looks at pragmatic language development which has do with how young children are able to use their language effectively and successfully in everyday interactions with other people in ways that are age-appropriate and typical,” said UW professor Daniela O’Neill, a developmental psychologist who created the LUI.

“For example, to ask for help, comment about noticeable things, tease, tell stories and give others information they might need. The pragmatics of language can be an area of great difficulty for children with autism,” O’Neill added.

Difficulty with learning language and communicating with others is often one of the first things that parents become concerned about.

Parents have much valuable information to offer about their child’s language use to professionals evaluating their child.

“A parent has had the most experience watching their child try to use their language in a host of different settings and with many different people,” said O’ Neill.

“This study will help us understand unexplored ways of identifying language skills in children with autism,” said Dr. Michael Kramer, Scientific Director at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

“Our support for the development of the Language Use Inventory helps keep us on the forefront of research on autism in young children,” he added. (ANI)

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