Analysis of a Repetitive Language Coding System: Comparisons between Fragile X Syndrome, Autism, and Down Syndrome

Anne Hoffmann, Angela John Thurman, Audra Sterling, Sara T. Kover, Lizabeth Finestack, Elizabeth Berry-Kravis, Jamie O. Edgin, Andrea Drayton, Eric Fombonne, Leonard Abbeduto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Expressive language sampling (ELS) is a frequently used tool for language analysis, as it can be used across widely ranging cognitive and language abilities. ELS can also evaluate pragmatic language, including excessive self-repetition, which is challenging to assess with traditional standard-ized assessments. This study explored how a well-established ELS protocol can assess three types of linguistic self-repetition in three neurodevelopmental disabilities: fragile X syndrome (FXS), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and Down syndrome (DS). We examined its ability to differentiate between these disorders, the relationships between repetitive language and other participant characteristics, and initial construct validity. We found that the groups with FXS and ASD differed significantly on each of the three repetitive language measure, and that the group with DS differed from either ASD or FXS on two. Cognitive ability was significantly related to phrase repetition in the group with ASD. When the groups were combined, there was evidence of convergent and divergent validity. This study extends previous research on ELS and supports its use as a means to characterize pragmatic language. It also provides information about the relationships between repetitive language and other phenotypic characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number575
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by NIH UL1 TR001860, P50HD103526, R01DC012033, and R01HD074346 and Simons Foundation grant SFARI 383668.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • autism
  • down syndrome
  • expressive language sampling
  • fragile X syndrome
  • pragmatic language
  • repetitive language


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