Parents speak to their autistic children using fewer words and less complex sentences than do parents of typical children, which in turn shapes the children’s language skills, a new study suggests1.
The findings contradict the recommendations of some autism therapies, which ask parents to speak in simple sentences, says lead researcher Riccardo Fusaroli, associate professor of cognitive science at Aarhus University in the Netherlands.
Fusaroli and his colleagues tracked language learning from about age 2 to 5 in autistic and typical children. The two groups started out with similar language abilities.
As they got older, however, the autistic children became less talkative and used simpler sentences than the controls did. Their parents also began to use less complex language; over time, the parents’ language at one visit predicted that of their children at the next, and vice versa.