Answering contextually demanding questions: pragmatic errors produced by children with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism

J Commun Disord. 2007 Sep-Oct;40(5):357-81. doi: 10.1016/j.jcomdis.2006.10.001. Epub 2006 Nov 28.


This study examined irrelevant/incorrect answers produced by children with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism (7-9-year-olds and 10-12-year-olds) and normally developing children (7-9-year-olds). The errors produced were divided into three types: in Type 1, the child answered the original question incorrectly, in Type 2, the child gave a correct answer, but when asked a follow-up question, he/she explained the answer incorrectly, and in Type 3, the child first gave a correct answer or explanation, but continued answering, which ultimately led to an irrelevant answer. Analyses of Type 1 and 2 errors indicated that all the children tried to utilize contextual information, albeit incorrectly. Analyses of Type 3 errors showed that topic drifts were almost non-existent in the control group, but common in the clinical group, suggesting that these children had difficulties in stopping processing after deriving a relevant answer.

Learning outcomes: The reader becomes aware of the different instances which may lead to the irrelevance of answers and get knowledge about features of answers of children with AS/HFA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aptitude
  • Asperger Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Asperger Syndrome / psychology*
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Child
  • Communication*
  • Comprehension*
  • Concept Formation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Language Development Disorders / diagnosis
  • Language Development Disorders / psychology*
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Speech Perception
  • Verbal Behavior*