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Environmental factors influence language development in children with autism spectrum disorders.

Abstract : While it is clearly admitted that normal behavioural development is determined by the interplay of genetic and environmental influences, this is much less the case for psychiatric disorders for which more emphasis has been given in the past decades on biological determinism. Thus, previous studies have shown that Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) were not affected by parental style. However, animal research suggests that different behavioural traits can be differentially affected by genetic/environmental factors. In the present study we hypothesized that amongst the ASD, language disorders may be more sensitive to social factors as language is a social act that develops under social influences. Using the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised, we compared the early characteristics of sensori-motor and language development in a large sample of children with ASD (n = 162) with parents belonging to different levels of education. The results showed that children raised by parents with a high level of education displayed earlier language development. Moreover, they showed earlier first words and phrases if their mother was at a high level of education, which reveals an additional gender effect. To our knowledge this study may trigger important new lines of thought and research, help equilibrate social and purely biological perspectives regarding ASD and bring new hopes for environmentally based therapies.
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Marine Grandgeorge, Martine Hausberger, Sylvie Tordjman, Michel Deleau, Alain Lazartigues, et al.. Environmental factors influence language development in children with autism spectrum disorders.. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2009, 4 (4), pp.e4683. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0004683⟩. ⟨hal-01229486⟩

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