First Advisor

Mary Gordon

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Speech: Emphasis in Speech Pathology/Audiology


Speech Communication




Autism, Michigan picture language inventory



Physical Description

1 online resource (67 pages)


The purpose of this study was to compare the expressive and comprehensive language structure skills of a selected sample of normal males and adolescent autistic males, using the Michigan Picture Language Inventory (MPLI) as the investigating instrument in order to determine if a statistically significant difference existed between the two groups. The autistic and normal subjects were matched for mental age scores within plus or minus two months as measured by the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT), Form B.

Seven autistic male and seven normal male subjects were selected from the greater Portland metropolitan area to be included in this study. Variables controlled were chronological ages of the autistic males and the mental age scores of the normal subjects. The autistic males were matched for mental age scores as measured by the PPVT (Form B).

The results of this study revealed no statistically significant differences between the performance of the autistic and normal subjects relative to the overall expression and comprehension language structure skills. An analysis of the nine word classes indicated that the autistic subjects performed significantly better than the normals on the expressive personal pronouns and the expressive adjectives. In addition, a statistically significant difference was found between the experimental and control subjects on the comprehension of singular and plural nouns with the autistic males performing better.

The findings of this investigation indicate that most of the autistic subjects obtained scores which were relatively close to their matched normals; however it should be noted that there was a considerable chronological age difference between the autistics and their matched normals. The “intact auditory memory” and the familiarity with this type of testing procedure may account for the lack of statistically significant difference in overall expression and comprehension scores. The poorer performance of the autistics on pronoun items is in agreement with many researchers who have studied autistic language and stated that the autistic child may lack the rule for correct pronoun assignments and may “echo” what is heard. The better performance of the autistic subjects on the comprehension of singular and plural nouns, as well as the poorer performance on personal pronouns and adjectives could possibly be explained by the proficient use of concrete versus abstract language.


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