Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 83–98 | Cite as

Story Recall and Narrative Coherence of High-Functioning Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Joshua J. Diehl
  • Loisa Bennetto
  • Edna Carter Young
Original Article

Previous research has found few quantitative differences between children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and well-matched controls in the length, complexity, and structure of their narratives. Researchers have noted, however, that narratives of children with ASDs have an unusual and idiosyncratic nature. This study provides an analysis of narratives in 17 children with high-functioning ASDs and 17 typically developing children matched on age, gender, language abilities, and cognitive abilities. We examined story recall and narrative coherence. The study revealed no group differences in story length or syntactic complexity. Children with ASDs also did not differ from controls in their use of the gist of a story to aid recall, or in their sensitivity to the importance of story events. Children with ASDs did, however, produce narratives that were significantly less coherent than the narratives of controls. Children with ASDs appeared less likely to use the gist of the story to organize their narratives coherently. These findings are discussed with regard to their relationship to other cognitive and linguistic difficulties of children with ASDs.

autism spectrum disorders language narratives coherence pragmatics 



This research was supported by NIH P01 HD35466 grant, a Collaborative Program of Excellence in Autism. We thank Melissa Dupere for her help with coding. We also thank the families who participated in this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joshua J. Diehl
    • 1
  • Loisa Bennetto
    • 1
  • Edna Carter Young
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Clinical & Social Sciences in PsychologyUniversity of RochesterRochesterUSA
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryUniversity of Rochester School of Medicine & DentistryRochesterUSA

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