Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Phonetic and phonological errors in children with high functioning autism and Asperger syndrome

By Joanne Cleland, Fiona Gibbon, Sue JE Peppé, Anne O'Hare and Marion Rutherford


This study involved a qualitative analysis of speech errors in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Participants were 69 children aged 5-13 years; 30 had high functioning autism and 39 had Asperger syndrome. On a standardized test of articulation, the minority (12%) of participants presented with standard scores below the normal range, indicating a speech delay/disorder. Although all the other children had standard scores within the normal range, a sizeable proportion (33% of those with normal standard scores) presented with a small number of errors. Overall 41% of the group produced at least some speech errors. The speech of children with ASD was characterized by mainly developmental phonological processes (gliding, cluster reduction and final consonant deletion most frequently), but non-developmental error types (such as phoneme specific nasal emission and initial consonant deletion) were found both in children identified as performing below the normal range in the standardized speech test and in those who performed within the normal range. Non-developmental distortions occurred relatively frequently in the children with ASD and previous studies of adolescents and adults with ASDs shows similar errors, suggesting that they do not resolve over time. Whether or not speech disorders are related specifically to ASD, their presence adds an additional communication and social barrier and should be diagnosed and treated as early as possible in individual children. © 2009 The Speech Pathology Association of Australia Limited

OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (1975). A comparative study of infantile autism and specific development receptive language disorder. doi
  2. (1977). A preliminary comparison of phonological development in autistic, normal and mentally retarded subjects. doi
  3. (1998). A preliminary investigation of oromotor function in young verbal and nonverbal children with autism.
  4. (2001). An investigation of language impairment in autism: Implications for genetic subgroups. Language and Cognitive Processes, doi
  5. (1976). Articulation in early childhood autism. doi
  6. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual for mental disorders (4 th ed.). doi
  7. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual for mental disorders (4th ed.). doi
  8. (2005). Differential diagnosis and treatment of children with speech disorder, (2 nd ed).
  9. (2005). Differential diagnosis and treatment of children with speech disorder, (2nd ed).
  10. (1971). Edinburgh Articulation Test. doi
  11. (1995). Gilliam Autism Rating Scale (GARS). doi
  12. (1998). Increasing speech intelligibility in children with autism. doi
  13. (2004). Language and communication in autism, doi
  14. (2004). Language and communication in autism, In doi
  15. (1976). Phonological investigation of verbal autistic and mentally retarded subjects. doi
  16. (2006). Prevalence of autistic spectrum disorders in Lothian, Scotland: An estimate using the “capture-recapture” technique. doi
  17. (2007). Prosody and its relationship to language in school-aged children with high-functioning autism. doi
  18. (2004). The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-Generic: A standard measure of Speech in ASD 15 social and communication deficits associated with the spectrum of autism.
  19. (2003). The Test for Reception of Grammar,

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.