Back to list

Detail of contribution

Auteur: Hélène DELAGE

Co-Auteur(s): Stephanie DURRLEMAN, ISC, CNRS Lyon, France; Dépt linguistique, Univ. de Genève, Suisse

SLI dyslexia autism: Do the syntactic profiles overlap?

Abstract/Résumé: This work addresses the ongoing debate regarding the overlaps of language profiles in children with three different diagnoses, namely Specific Language Impairment (SLI), Developmental Dyslexia (DD) and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Recent studies have highlighted the existence of some linguistic similarities between SLI and DD on the one hand (Bishop & Snowling, 2004; Guasti, 2011) and between SLI and ASD on the other (Kjelgaard & Tager-Flusberg, 2001; Roberts et al., 2004; Tager-Flusberg, 2006; Bishop, 2010), however more research is needed to establish the linguistic phenotypes of these three clinical groups and understand the parallelisms between them. With this investigation we aim to elucidate (1) the syntactic properties common to these groups, (2) their characteristic syntactic markers and (3) how the observed syntactic abilities in our populations can be linked to phonological capacities, working memory skills and non-verbal intelligence. With this in mind, we have studied three groups of 20 children and adolescents diagnosed with SLI, DD and ASD (aged from 6 to 16), focusing on identical syntactic tasks such as the production and comprehension of (1st and 3rd person) accusative clitics and definite articles. In addition, we have administered standardized tests to all participants, assessing formal language abilities including general morphosyntax and phonological skills as well as working memory and non-verbal reasoning. These groups have further been compared to younger and age-matched typically developing (TD) controls. The first results indicate that the morphosyntactic deficits of SLI are indeed comparable to those found in ASD, both as assessed by general language evaluations as well as by more specific syntactic experiments. Regarding the DD group, although they scored lower than the TD controls of the same age, they outperform the ASD and SLI groups, except on the phonological task. A particularly interesting result of the ASD group has to do with their performance with accusative clitics: Whereas 1st person clitics are acquired earlier than 3rd person clitics in both TD and atypical groups (Tuller et al., 2011), the ASD group shows the opposite, distinctive pattern. This difficulty can be linked to their specific deficit in theory of mind (Frith, 1989; Baron-Cohen et al., 1985; Baron-Cohen, 1995). Preliminary statistical analysis also reveals a significant correlation between morphosyntax and phonology across groups, while there is no strong correlation between morphosyntax and working memory or non-verbal capacities. The theoretical and clinical implications of these findings will be discussed.