Despite interest, they may cry or throw tantrums,

Despite the shared feature of poor spoken
language and limited social skills, communication deficits are often more
severe in children with autism when compared to children with SLI. Some
individuals with autism never acquire verbal language, and those that do, use
language in dysfunctional and unusual ways (Rapin and Dunn, 2003).  The child with SLI exhibits a
structural language difficulty at the phonological, morphological or syntactic
level where the child with autism displays more broad, pragmatic language
difficulties. Where a child with SLI sounds like a younger child of typical
development, children with autism display communication problems that are not typical
for a child of any age. For example, a child with SLI may have trouble with
grammatical inflections or using and understanding verbs, while a child with
autism may produce long sophisticated sentences, but in an unusual context. The
pragmatic deficits associated with SLI are thought to arise from these
structural language difficulties, but for children with autism, are though to
be more biologically based (Osman, Shohdi, & Aziz, 2011).

Another difference between the two
disorders can be seen in the precursory behaviors of content, form and use.

These three categories refer to pre-linguistic behaviors that are key components
for developing language (Bloom & Lahey, 1978). Children with SLI may not
use speech forms appropriate for their age, but will still exhibit precursory
behaviors including eye contact, joint attention, pointing, responding to their
name and regulation of others’ behaviors. In contrast, children with autism
will not display these types of intimate human interactions and instead, will
fail to respond to their name and show reduced interest in people and social

Individuals with autism also display a
tendency to engage in restrictive and repetitive behaviors, which is not seen
in children with SLI. These behaviors can take the form of hand flapping,
rocking, banging, tapping and an intense, unusual preoccupation or obsession
with objects. If the individual is pulled away from this interest, they may cry
or throw tantrums, which can escalate to disruptive and physically aggressive
behavior (American
Psychiatric Association, 2013).

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