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South African Journal of Child Health

On-line version ISSN 1999-7671
Print version ISSN 1994-3032


SCHOLTZ, N et al. Early language development in children with autism (ages 3 - 5 years) in Bloemfontein, South Africa: A comparative study. S. Afr. j. child health [online]. 2021, vol.15, n.4, pp.208-211. ISSN 1999-7671.

BACKGROUND. Autism is a developmental disorder, which presents during the childhood years, with social communication difficulties and signs of delay in early language development. OBJECTIVES. The aim of the study was to compare the early language development of children aged 3 - 5 years with a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) V diagnosis of autism with that of children of the same age with typical early language development. The secondary aim was to determine if certain children with autism have better language development in the language to which they are exposed on television (English) than in their home language (Afrikaans). METHODS. The Language Development Survey was translated into Afrikaans, modified and used as a questionnaire. For the control group, questionnaires were distributed at preschools and completed by the parents. For the sample group, questionnaires were distributed at the practice of a developmental paediatrician. RESULTS. The median percentages of Afrikaans words used in all the categories were lower in the sample group than in the control group. More children in the sample group tended to speak English the best, use words not spoken at home, and imitate words and sounds in the incorrect context. Most of the parents of children in the sample group considered their child's language development poor. Children in both groups watched television for long periods of time. CONCLUSIONS. Afrikaans-speaking children with autism have a poorer vocabulary in Afrikaans and used more English words than in the control group. The television exposure of children under the age of two years is high.

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