Date of Completion

Spring 5-1-2017

Thesis Advisor(s)

Letitia Naigles

Honors Major

Cognitive Science


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has been implicated with a wide variety of language impairments and developmental delays in the acquisition of language in young children. A number of unique impairments in the speech of children with ASD have been proposed. The current study empirically investigates one such proposed language error; namely, that children with ASD produce large numbers of frozen, or unanalyzed language forms. Frozen language forms refer to multi-word phrases that are produced by rote and across both appropriate and inappropriate contexts. The children’s speech was recorded in a supervised play session with a caregiver, and was coded using an adaptation of Pine et. al. (1993)’s coding scheme. The children with ASD produced frozen forms significantly more frequently than the TD children; additionally, the ASD group produced repetitive, “non-frozen” language forms significantly more frequently than the TD group. However, the actual prevalence of these language errors within the ASD group was fairly low (< 12% of all utterances), and the frequency of these errors tended to decrease over time. Thus the existence of forms may not be appropriate indicators of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Additionally, the speech of children with ASD appeared to match the developmental trends of TD children over time, but at a slower pace.