Idiom understanding in people with Asperger Syndrome (AS) / High Functioning Autism (HFA), International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders
Vogindroukas I., Zikopoulou O., Idiom understanding in people with Asperger Syndrome (AS) / High Functioning Autism (HFA), International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, under review
Background: Many studies have evidenced the unusual profile of language abilities and the impairments in comprehension of figurative language in children with autistic spectrum disorders. However, it is still not clear whether the comprehension of the non-literal figures of speech such as idioms, irony, metaphors, is just inadequate or a total inability.
Aim: To extend previous research in the development of idiom comprehension by investigating this ability in children with Asperger Syndrome (AS) or with High Functioning Autism (HFA).
Methods & Procedures: In the study participated three groups. The first group was consisted of 27 children with AS/HFA (M age: 11.3). In the second group participated 30 typically developing children (M age: 12.27), while in the third group took part 30 adults with typical development (M age: 28.27). In all participants was administered the Comprehension Test of Idiomatic Phrases.
Outcomes & Results: Children with AS/HFA had statistically significant lower performance compared to either the group of typically developing children (TDC) or the group of typically developing adults (TDA). No statistically significant difference found in the performance between the two typically developing groups. The participants’ comprehension of each idiomatic expression was investigated and discussed. Also, the results indicated no significant correlation between the IQ and the performance for the children with AS/HFA, while positive correlations were revealed between performance and age for the two groups of children.
Conclusions & implications: the between-group differences in performance provide further evidence that children with AS/HFA have difficulties in understanding idioms and they confirm their tendency to make literal interpretations. These impairments are irrelevant to their intelligence and they affect their communication with others. The understanding of these difficulties is important in order to find ways to limit the confusion and the misinterpretations which are observed during the communicative acts with this clinic group.