Language regression in autism spectrum disorder: a systematic review

Bárbara Backes, Regina Basso Zanon, Cleonice Alves Bosa


A significant portion of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is affected by the loss of language skills. This study’s objective was to systematically re­view papers addressing this phenomenon characterizing the loss of skills in ASD. Biblio­graphic references were systematically searched in five databases: PubMed, Web of Science, PsycINFO, Lilacs and Scielo. Two independent judges selected and extracted data. The search resulted in 30 studies. Language regression tended to occur around 24 months of age and was generally accompanied by the loss of other skills. Beginning in 2000, studies in the field became more frequent, with a refined operational definition of the phenomenon. Important gaps were identified and can motivate the development of future studies, such as a lack of prospective studies and the need to discuss the con­ceptual definition of developmental regression.

Key words: autistic disorder; child development: regression; language; review.

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ISSN 1980-6906 (on-line)