Scientists at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, in Baltimore, looked at information on 535 children, ages 8 to 17, diagnosed with autism and with severe language delays at age 4. At age 4, their language delays ranged from not speaking at all to using single words or phrases without verbs.
The researchers found that, in fact, most of these children did go on to acquire language skills. Nearly half (47 percent) became fluent speakers. Over two-thirds (70 percent) could speak in simple phrases.