, Volume 41, Issue 8, pp 1097-1112
Date: 09 Nov 2010

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

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Abstract

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.