The developing language abilities and increased risks of unaffected siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder

Author(s): Ellen Drumm, Jessica Brian

Siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are at a higher risk than the general population for ASD, ASD traits and other developmental differences. A review of prospective longitudinal studies that have followed siblings up to age 3 reveal that siblings with non-ASD outcomes are at increased risk for early language delays; however, there is a dearth of research on language development in these children through to middle childhood. Preliminary research into pragmatics (i.e., the contextually appropriate social use of language) suggests that non-ASD siblings may be at increased risk for impairment in this area, but this is a field ripe for further investigation. Understanding the nature of the increased risk for language and related learning challenges in non-ASD siblings of children with ASD is important for researchers, clinicians and parents, as early identification can lead to early intervention and better outcomes.


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