This study focuses on the relation between functional play and other aspects of cooperation with language, especially vocabulary production, in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Ten children with ASD (mean CA 54.1 months) were compared with 10 typically developing (TD) children matched for mental and language age (mean CA 17.1 months). Children's behaviors were assessed from video-recordings during spontaneous mother-child play. Results demonstrated that children with ASD take significantly less initiatives for joint attention and spent significantly less time in Elaborated Functional Play. Moreover, Elaborated Functional Play was associated with Expressive Language and word learning in TD children but not in ASD children. Conclusively, it is suggested that in TD children there is an epigenetic relation between preverbal collaboration skills, functional play and language. On the other hand, children with ASD may follow alternative paths to vocabulary development.