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What's new for you?: Interlocutor-specific perspective-taking and language interpretation in autistic and neuro-typical children

Abbot-Smith, Kirsten, Williams, David M., Matthews, Danielle (2020) What's new for you?: Interlocutor-specific perspective-taking and language interpretation in autistic and neuro-typical children. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 70 . Article Number 101465. ISSN 1750-9467. (doi:10.1016/j.rasd.2019.101465) (KAR id:76759)


Background: Studies have found that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are more likely to make errors in appropriately producing referring expressions (‘the dog’ vs. ‘the black dog’) than are controls but comprehend them with equal facility. We tested whether this anomaly arises because comprehension studies have focused on manipulating perspective-taking at a ‘generic speaker’ level. Method: We compared 24 autistic eight- to eleven-year-olds with 24 well-matched neuro-typical controls. Children interpreted requests (e.g. ‘Can I have that ball?’) in contexts which would be ambiguous (i.e. because the child can see two balls) if perspective-taking were not utilized. In the interlocutor-specific perspective-taking condition, the target was the particular object which was new for the speaker. Children needed to take into account what the speaker had played with before and the fact that they were now expressing excitement about something new. In two control ‘speaker-generic’ conditions we tested children’s ability to take the visual perspective of the speaker (where any speaker who stood behind a particular barrier would have the same perspective). Results: The autistic group were significantly less likely to select the target and significantly more likely to request clarification in the ‘interlocutor-specific’ condition. Performance in the ‘interlocutor-generic’ (visual) perspective taking conditions did not differ between groups. Conclusion: Autistic children, even those who are not intellectually-impaired, tend to have more difficulty than neuro-typical peers in comprehending referring expressions when this requires understanding that people comment on what is new for them.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.rasd.2019.101465
Uncontrolled keywords: autism; children; pragmatics; comprehension; referential communication; perspective-taking;
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF41 Psychology and philosophy
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Kirsten Abbot-Smith
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2019 15:44 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 09:07 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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