The relationship of language function of adults with autism to the speech of their mothers

Wong Chi Hong, Wai Ping Cecilia Tsang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


In this study, twenty five adults with autism and their mothers were audio-taped in their natural home environment during their interaction. Two validated Chinese versions of measuring tools: Category System for Analysis of Mothers' Speech (Howlin et al., 1973) and Language Function Categories (Cantwell et al., 1977) were chosen to assess the verbal samples collected from those subjects. In addition. measurements such as standardised instruments CARS, MLU and TNU were administered to the autistic subjects to control confounding variables. The results of the main study showed support for the hypothesis that there is a significant correlation between the Language Directed Utterances of the mothers and the Socialised Utterances of the adults with autism. Furthermore, some predictors from the items in Language Directed Utterances, for prediction of the Socialised Utterances of adults with autism were identified. The complexity of speech between adults with autism and their mothers was found to be significantly correlated. The findings suggest the possibilities of improving the language function of persons with autism, even when they become adults, by modifying the speech pattern of their mothers. Moreover, the study also revealed some important concepts such as mutual reinforcement and importance of maintenance. Clinical implications and recommendations such as possible ways to improve mothers' speech and future direction for further research were reported.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-85
Number of pages13
JournalBritish Journal of Developmental Disabilities
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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