Narratives of Girls and Boys with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Gender Differences in Narrative Competence and Internal State Language

Abstract

Since gender differences in the symptomatology of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are not well understood, the current study examines the communicative skills of males and females with ASD. Narrative competence and internal state language (ISL) was investigated using narrations elicited by a wordless picture book. 11 girls and 11 boys with ASD and 11 typically developing girls were individually matched. Although results demonstrate largely comparable narrative skills across groups, the groups differed with respect to the size and use of ISL: Girls with ASD verbalized and motivated internal states more often than boys, and both groups with ASD fell behind typically developing children in production of affective words. Implications for the clinical presentation of males and females with ASD are discussed.

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Fig. 1
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Notes

  1. 1.

    Pragmatics is a field of linguistics that refers to the social dimension of language, while phonology, semantics, morphology and syntax focus structural characteristics of the language system.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Anna-Lena Rumpf and Rhea Eghtesadinia for their help in transcribing and coding the data, Michael Vesker for comments on language and style, as well as the institutions and subjects for participating in this study.

Author contributions

CK conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination and drafted the manuscript; BvdB participated in the design and coordination of the study, performed the measurement and the statistical analysis and helped to draft the manuscript; IKB conceived of the study, and participated in its design and coordination and helped to perform the statistical analysis and to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Christina Kauschke.

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Kauschke, C., van der Beek, B. & Kamp-Becker, I. Narratives of Girls and Boys with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Gender Differences in Narrative Competence and Internal State Language. J Autism Dev Disord 46, 840–852 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-015-2620-5

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Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Communication
  • Narratives
  • Internal state language
  • Gender
  • Coherence
  • Cohesion