The aim of this study was to determine the social and cognitive correlates of language acquisition in autistic children. Functional and symbolic play skills were shown to be associated with language abilities in a sample of young autistic children (mean CA 54.5 months), thereby replicating previous findings. Certain types of nonverbal communication skills were also shown to be significant correlates of language development in this group of autistic children. These involved the ability to use gestures to coordinate visual attention between social partners with respect to objects or events. The play and nonverbal communication variables were not significantly correlated, suggesting that these variables reflect independent psychological factors associated with language development in young autistic children.