Personal pronouns and communicative engagement in autism

Hobson, R Peter, Lee, Anthony and Hobson, Jessica A (2010) Personal pronouns and communicative engagement in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40 (6). pp. 653-664. ISSN 0162-3257 (Print) ; 1573-3432 (Online)

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In three experimental conditions, we tested matched children with and without autism (n = 15 per group) for their comprehension and use of first person plural (‘we’) and third person singular (‘he’) pronouns, and examined whether such linguistic functioning related to their social interaction. The groups were indistinguishable in their comprehension and use of ‘we’ pronouns, although within each group, such usage was correlated with ratings of interpersonal connectedness with the collaborator. On the other hand, participants with autism were less likely to use third person pronouns or to show patterns of eye gaze reflecting engagement with an interlocutor’s stance vis-à-vis a third person. In these settings, atypical third person pronoun usage seemed to reflect limited communicative engagement, but first person pronouns were relatively spared.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Communication (incl. disorders of) > Autism
Department/People: Special Units

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