Impairments in the social use of language are universal in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but few standardized measures evaluate communication skills above the level of individual words or sentences. This study evaluated the Expression, Reception, and Recall of Narrative Instrument (ERRNI; Bishop, 2004) to determine its contribution to assessing language and communicative impairment beyond the sentence level in children with ASD.
A battery of assessments, including measures of cognition, language, pragmatics, severity of autism symptoms, and adaptive functioning, was administered to 74 8- to 9-year-old intellectually able children with ASD.
Average performance on the ERRNI was significantly poorer than on the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals–Fourth Edition (CELF-4). In addition, ERRNI scores reflecting the number and quality of relevant story components included in the participants' narratives were significantly positively related to scores on measures of nonverbal cognitive skill, language, and everyday adaptive communication, and significantly negatively correlated with the severity of affective autism symptoms.
Results suggest that the ERRNI reveals discourse impairments that may not be identified by measures that focus on individual words and sentences. Overall, the ERRNI provides a useful measure of communicative skill beyond the sentence level in school-aged children with ASD.