Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 43, Issue 7, pp 1732–1740

Brief Report: Conveying Subjective Experience in Conversation: Production of Mental State Terms and Personal Narratives in Individuals with High Functioning Autism

Brief Report

DOI: 10.1007/s10803-012-1716-4

Cite this article as:
Bang, J., Burns, J. & Nadig, A. J Autism Dev Disord (2013) 43: 1732. doi:10.1007/s10803-012-1716-4


Mental state terms and personal narratives are conversational devices used to communicate subjective experience in conversation. Pre-adolescents with high-functioning autism (HFA, n = 20) were compared with language-matched typically-developing peers (TYP, n = 17) on production of mental state terms (i.e., perception, physiology, desire, emotion, cognition) and personal narratives (sequenced retelling of life events) during short conversations. HFA and TYP participants did not differ in global use of mental state terms, nor did they exhibit reduced production of cognitive terms in particular. Participants with HFA produced significantly fewer personal narratives. They also produced a smaller proportion of their mental state terms during personal narratives. These findings underscore the importance of assessing and developing qualitative aspects of conversation in highly verbal individuals with autism.


High-functioning autismConversationPersonal narrativeMental state terms

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Communication Sciences and DisordersMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada