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

Joanne Cleland, Fiona E Gibbon, Sue J E Peppé, Anne O'Hare, Marion Rutherford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-76
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


  • adolescent
  • asperger syndrome
  • autistic disorder
  • child
  • child development disorders, Pervasive
  • preschool child
  • humans
  • language tests
  • phonetics
  • Scotland
  • speech disorders
  • verbal behavior


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