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Syntactic awareness: probable correlations with central coherence and non-verbal intelligence in autism

PURPOSE: To evaluate syntactic awareness, central coherence, non-verbal intelligence, social and communication development, interests and behavior of children with autistic spectrum disorders and to examine their probable correlations. METHODS: Participants were ten subjects diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder, eight male and two female, with ages between 4 years e 9 months and 13 years and 4 months (mean age 9 years), who used oral language for communication. The following tests were used: Syntactic Awareness Test - Adapted (Prova de Consciência Sintática - Adaptada), Computerized jigsaw puzzles with picture and background and only with background; and Raven's Coloured Progressive Matrices - Special Scale. Subjects' parents answered the protocol Autism Diagnostic Interview - Revised (ADI-R). RESULTS: The children with autism presented syntactic awareness performance similar to that of 6-year-old children with typical development. Sixty percent of the subjects showed non-verbal intelligence at a superior or average level. There were no correlations between the performances in syntactic awareness and the other tested variables. CONCLUSION: There was no relationship between the performance in syntactic awareness and the results related to central coherence, non-verbal intelligence and social interaction deficits, difficulties in communication and restrict patterns interests of subjects with autism. The results suggest that these children seem to follow the development pattern of typically developing 6-year-old children in syntactic awareness abilities, only delayed.

Autistic disorder; Child; Language development; Cognition; Evaluation

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