There is considerable controversy regarding whether to use telegraphic or grammatical input when speaking to young children with language delays, including children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study examined telegraphic speech use in parents of preschoolers with ASD and associations with children's spoken language 1 year later.


Parent–child dyads (n = 55) participated when children were, on average, 3 (Time 1) and 4 years old (Time 2). The rate at which parents omitted obligatory determiners was derived from transcripts of parent–child play sessions; measures of children's spoken language were obtained from these same transcripts.


Telegraphic speech use varied substantially across parents. Higher rates of parent determiner omissions at Time 1 were significantly associated with lower lexical diversity in children's spoken language at Time 2, even when controlling for children's baseline lexical diversity and nonverbal IQ. Findings from path analyses supported the directionality of effects assumed in our regression analyses, although these results should be interpreted with caution due to the limited sample size.


Telegraphic input may have a negative impact on language development in young children with ASD. Future experimental research is needed to directly investigate how telegraphic input affects children's language learning and processing.


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