Domains of social communication handicap in autism spectrum disorder

Julia M. Robertson, Peter E. Tanguay, Suzanne L'Ecuyer, Allison Sims, Courtney Waltrip

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate whether specific 'social communication' handicaps could be identified in autism spectrum disorder using the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule and to compare the results with those found in a previous factor-analysis study using the Autism Diagnostic Interview- Revised. Method: All subjects were evaluated with both instruments. J.R. and P.E.T. independently diagnosed autism, Asperger's disorder, or pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified in 51 children. Items from the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule that represented social communication behaviors were factor-analyzed. Results: Three factors were identified: joint attention, affective reciprocity, and theory of mind. These are the same social communication domains that were identified in the previous study. Conclusions: These 3 social communication domains have been discussed in the literature regarding normal development and in previous research on autism spectrum disorders. If these domains are replicated in larger sample sizes, they could be used to monitor the results of pharmacological and psychotherapeutic interventions in autism spectrum disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)738-745
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1999


  • Asperger's disorder, affective reciprocity
  • Autism
  • Joint attention
  • Social communication
  • Theory of mind


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