Need for Early Intervention in Language and Communication Problems: Article Review

Need for Early Intervention in Language and Communication Problems: Article Review


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Why Early Intervention is Fundamental in Language and Communication Difficulties Related to Autism

McCleery, J. P., Elliott, N. A., Sampanis, D. S., & Stefanidou, C. A. (2015). Motor development and motor resonance difficulties in autism: relevance to early intervention for language and communication skills. Autism: The Movement Perspective, 39.


This article by Mcleery et al. (2015) is basically a literature review which analyzes numerous empirical researches that have in the past tried to study motor development and motor resonance problems in children. As a prelude to their analysis, the authors suggest that a huge portion of children with autism experience difficulties in developing motor related skills. They also claim that very many of them show clear signs of motor resonance deficiencies. Interestingly, Mcleery and his co-authors postulate that early motor-related problems can possibly impact self-communication and language development negatively. As they analyze the possible negative effects of motor impairments, the authors give credence to the need for early communication-related interventions, including use of argumentative and alternative communication (AAC), motor based interventions, electromagnetic brain stimulation, and interventions targeting synchronous motor activities.


According to the article, autism is a widespread complex conundrum which affects both children and adults. This deformity is detected via behavioral inconsistencies in social skills, communication and language skills, and repetitive behavior. In all patients, there are three noticeable Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), namely; Autistic Disorder, Aspergers Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). Across the three categories, patients tend to differ slightly in the severity of their intellectual and language problems. However, most of them exhibit a similarity in social and communication skills impairment, as well as in the onset of their problems which usually begin at the age of three years.

Mcleery and his friends discovered that there are many motor deficiencies related to ASDs in both children and adults. They include: motor stereotypes, gait abnormalities, early motor delays, as well as difficulties in motor coordination, postural control, and imitation. However, the manner in which each deficiency is expressed may differ across the age groups. For instance, the authors discovered that children with Autistic Disorder experience stiffer gait which hinders them from walking strait. On the other hand, autistic adults experience an ataxic type gait which makes them lose control of bodily movements.

Delay in cognition is undoubtedly the major cause of motor deficiencies seen in most autism individuals. However, this article reveals other potential causes such as cerebellum abnormalities, impaired sensory input, impaired multi-sensory integration, and impairments in the frontal-striatal connectors. Its authors mainly delved further into ASDs motor impairments to decipher if there are motor-related interventions which can be applied to alleviate the difficulties of communication and language skills in the young children. In total, they discovered four broad types of probable early childhood interventions that can be used to mitigate communication and language difficulties.

Foremost, they proposed use of two ACC interventions: sign language and picture exchange communication system (PECS). Secondly, they recommended use motor based measures such as prompts for restructuring oral muscular phonetic targets (PROMPTs) and auditory motor mapping training. Their third measure required use of direct brain stimulation that involves electrocuting by a direct current. Lastly, McCleery and his two colleagues encouraged use synchronous motor activities such as playing and reciprocal imitation. They argued that the suggested mechanisms are aimed at manipulating the impaired children to communicate or behave in a desired way.


I concur with all the solutions recommended in this article. All of them have the ability to help the impaired children to build proper motor skills which can help them to communicate or speak properly. Nonetheless, the measures are not sufficient to offer each of them a permanent medical solution. Most of them are just manipulative approaches which are meant to control the children to behave in a particular way. For example, use of picture exchange is a temporal information exchange method which does not offer a long-term remedy. Furthermore, it is strenuous and time consuming. Therefore, more diagnostic studies are required to help construct pragmatic answers which can give the children better cures.



The main strength of this article is its comprehensiveness. Even though motor deficiencies in children are its main focus, it tackles the broader topic of autism in a very precise manner. For example, the introductory part commences by explaining the meaning of autism. Thus, many readers, including those who are not conversant with this topic can be able to decode it and follow its line of argument right from the onset.  Moreover, it highlights all the various types of ASDs and how each of them is related to motor deficiencies in adults and children. Consequently, this article can be used as a source for future contrast studies between the two age sets.

Precision is the second strong point of this article. Even though the authors spent some time discussing other edgy and interrelated issues, they still singled out their main topic of early motor development and motor resonance and tackled it justifiably. Unlike test studies which use observatory evidence to improve the credibility of their allegations, this particular study cited prior empirical studies which had already discovered credible evidence in the same topic. Thus, the researchers saved a lot of time which could have been wasted in conducting an actual field study. Furthermore, medical related studies usually consume a lot of time.

The third strength for this article and perhaps its most important is solution building. Any study is virtually incomplete if it does not offer possible solutions to the problem under study. This article has enumerated a variety of interventions which can be applied on children with autism to alleviate the negative impacts of motor ailments. Even though the resolutions are both practical and theoretical, they are all aimed at offering a solution to the troubles autism individuals face. The segment of future directions is also a critical resolution element. It is an admission by the authors that there is room for improvement to their work. Furthermore, it shows their willingness to participate in future studies to find better solutions to the motor ASDs complications.


            The biggest weakness in this work is lack of an actual test study to help generate more concrete resolutions. The authors largely depended on previous studies, some of which whose authenticity can be questionable. Consequently, most of their arguments are hypothetical rather than concrete. Actual studies which use empirical evidence are more reliable (Weibelzahl & Weber, 2002). Failure to conduct a practical study also led to lack of adequate statistical analyses. Through the entire article, there is very little reference to statistical evidence. To be adequate and convincing, a study similar to the one in this review should be inclusive of both qualitative and quantitative aspects (Ritchie et al., 2013). In spite of its weaknesses, this research is a good source of knowledge which can be used to help autism patients.



Weibelzahl, S., & Weber, G. (2002). Advantages, opportunities and limits of empirical evaluations: Evaluating adaptive systems. KI16(3), 17-20.

Ritchie, J., Lewis, J., Nicholls, C. M., & Ormston, R. (Eds.). (2013).Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science students and researchers. Sage.

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