Original Paper

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 432-443

First online:

When Asking Questions is Not Enough: An Observational Study of Social Communication Differences in High Functioning Children with Autism

  • Christopher D. JonesAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Puget Sound Email author 
  • , Ilene S. SchwartzAffiliated withDepartment of Special Education, University of Washington

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This investigation examined communication patterns between high functioning children with autism and their families and typically developing children and their families within traditional dinner time conversation. Twenty families with a child with autism (3.5–7 years.) and ten families with typically developing children (3.5–6 years) were video recorded during dinner and their interactions were coded. Results revealed that children with autism initiated fewer bids for interactions, commented less often, continued ongoing interactions through fewer conversational turns, and responded less often to family member communication bids. Results are interpreted with respect to how communication patterns may be indicative of social communication deficits not previously examined in high functioning children with autism. Strategies for social communication interventions within the family and other natural contexts are discussed.


Social communication High functioning autism Family interactions