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Auteur: Marie-Thérèse LE NORMAND

Co-Auteur(s): Marie-Hélène Plumet, Romuald Blanc & Jean-Louis Adrien

Atypical production of grammatical knowledge in French children with autism

Abstract/Résumé: In an attempt to test the late- and early grammar hypotheses (Le Normand et al, in press) this study examines the extent to which grammatical knowledge in children with autism is atypical or merely delayed when compared to that of typically developing children. Participants were twenty native French-speaking high-functioning diagnosed with autism aged from 10 to17 matched to twenty typically developing control children. Diagnosis of autism was made according to the autism diagnostic interview-revised (ADI-R) and the autism diagnostic observation schedule-generic (ADOS-G) All participants were given a story telling task « Frog where are you? (Mayer, 1969). Connectors in (i) coordinate sentences e.g., and, or, but ; . (ii) adverbial clauses e.g., when, where, since, because, if, then, so…(iii) verb complements, (iv) relative clauses and (v) passive sentences, were tallied and categorized. Frequency of morphological errors was also calculated as a ratio of morphological errors to total number of propositions in the child’s story. The number of individual complex sentences in a child’s story were tallied and the total was divided by the number of propositions in that story to yield a proportion. The frequency of complex sentences and the number of different sentence types occurring in the child’s story were counted to yield a measure of syntactic diversity. Patterns of results show that children with autism provide no evidence of typical development for morphology and sentence complexity, revealing an atypical production of grammatical knowledge in this sample of children with autism. It is argued that such deficits are not due to a general language delay but rather to a specific implicit knowledge of early grammar. References Le Normand MT, Parisse C & Moreno-Torres I & Dellatolas G (in press) How do children develop early grammar and build multiword utterances? A corpus study of French children aged 2 to 4, Child Development Mayer, M. (1969) Frog where are you? New York, Dial Press