Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 41, Issue 8, pp 1097–1112

Processing of Ironic Language in Children with High-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder


    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of Calgary
  • Kristin R. Rostad
    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of Calgary
  • Carly A. McMorris
    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of Calgary
    • Department of PsychologyYork University
  • Emma A. Climie
    • Division of Applied PsychologyUniversity of Calgary
  • Jacqueline Stowkowy
    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of Calgary
  • Melanie R. Glenwright
    • Department of PsychologyUniversity of Manitoba
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10803-010-1131-7

Cite this article as:
Pexman, P.M., Rostad, K.R., McMorris, C.A. et al. J Autism Dev Disord (2011) 41: 1097. doi:10.1007/s10803-010-1131-7


We examined processing of verbal irony in three groups of children: (1) 18 children with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (HFASD), (2) 18 typically-developing children, matched to the first group for verbal ability, and (3) 18 typically-developing children matched to the first group for chronological age. We utilized an irony comprehension task that minimized verbal and pragmatic demands for participants. Results showed that children with HFASD were as accurate as typically-developing children in judging speaker intent for ironic criticisms, but group differences in judgment latencies, eye gaze, and humor evaluations suggested that children with HFASD applied a different processing strategy for irony comprehension; one that resulted in less accurate appreciation of the social functions of irony.


Verbal ironyHigh-functioning Autism spectrum disorderLanguage processingEye gazeFigurative language

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010