McNair Scholars Research Journal


Human growth is dependent upon social interactions, notably essential during the middle childhood years (ages 5-10). Although some children develop differently than others, all experience the same types of mental processes through which, due to a variety of factors, they may become typically achieving, or stunted in their development. Language is a key component of being human. Communication occurs through verbal and nonverbal behavior. People are able to understand what others are trying to encode through multiple processes of interpretation. Humans learn to use language through interaction with others, but are born with the ability to acquire language. Children with Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) acquire language the same way as typically developing children, however, they use a different system of communication. This paper will describe the difficulties in language usage in social situations faced by children with Autism, and will discuss how cognitive development and language acquisition shape the ways in which social interaction differs in typically developing children as compared to children with Autism in middle childhood. It will also illustrate multiple factors that may contribute to the deficiencies noted in ASD and what is being done to address those issues.