Readers with autism (ASD), poor comprehension (PC), and typical development (TD) took part in three reading experiments requiring the production of inferences. In Experiments 1 and 2 reading times for target phrases—placed immediately after text implicitly indicating the emotion of a protagonist or after a number of filler sentences, respectively—were used as measures of inferencing. In Experiment 3, participants were explicitly asked to identify the protagonist’s emotion. There were no significant differences among groups in Experiment 1. Compared to TD readers, the PC group performed poorly in Experiments 2 and 3. ASD readers performed worse than PC participants only in the explicit-question task. Although ASD readers can produce inferences, they respond to questions about them with difficulty.
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This study was conducted thanks to the funding received from the University of Seville (IV and V Plan Propio) to the first author and the Spanish Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (Grants Number PSI2010-7401 and Number CONSOLIDER INGENIO 2010 CSD2008–00048) to the second. The authors wish to thank all the teachers, pupils, and educational authorities that participated in the study for their collaboration, as well as Inmaculada González, M. Ángeles Solís, and Gabriel Mesa for their assistance in collecting the data and parent support groups Autismo Sevilla and Asperger Andalucía. The advice of Gina Conti-Ramsden and Mila Vulchanova to the first author was of great assistance during the phases of design and data analysis.
The experiments described in this paper were part of María J. Tirado's PhD Dissertation. David Saldaña was her supervisor. María J. Tirado recruited the participants, programmed the experiments, analysed the data, and wrote the first draft of the paper. David Saldaña supervised the planning of the study, stimuli and analyses, and contributed significantly to the final version of the paper.
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Tirado, M.J., Saldaña, D. Readers with Autism Can Produce Inferences, but they Cannot Answer Inferential Questions. J Autism Dev Disord 46, 1025–1037 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-015-2648-6
- Poor comprehension
- Reading comprehension