Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2010

Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)

Degree In

Speech Pathology and Audiology

First Advisor

Karla K. McGregor

First Committee Member

Amanda J Owen

Second Committee Member

Bruce Tomblin


Children with high-functioning autism, children with specific language impairment, children with autism and language impairment, and controls produced sentences after a prompt to form a sentence using a specific word. The sentences were analyzed for syntactic complexity.

Children with language impairment, regardless of autism diagnosis, made less complex sentences than their age peers. However, children with autism and language impairment exhibited a broader range of ability than children with language impairment alone. Children with high-functioning autism without concomitant structural language impairment created sentences of similar complexity to age peers. Word variables also influenced sentence complexity, with word meaning (abstract vs. concrete) having the most robust effect and word frequency having a negligible effect.

Implications for this study in relation to double-deficit and syntactic bootstrapping models are discussed.


autism, complex syntax, language impairment, SLI, syntactic development


vi, 47 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 44-47).


Copyright 2010 Sarah Ann McConnell