Social language use (pragmatics) in parents of autistic individuals and controls was compared. Autism parents displayed atypical pragmatic behaviours more often than controls. Preliminary factor analysis suggested three parsimonious groupings of pragmatic abnormalities: Disinhibited Social Communication, Awkward/Inadequate Expression, and Odd Verbal Interaction. The pragmatic features observed in some autism parents are milder but conceptually similar to the social language deficits of autism. Possible reasons for familial aggregation of pragmatic language deficits are discussed.
c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Rebecca Landa, The Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, 600 North Wolfe Street, Meyer 2–181, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.