Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders

pp 982-983

Discourse Management

  • Sarita AustinAffiliated withLaboratory of Developmental Communication Disorders, Yale Child Study Center Email author 


Conversational discourse; Pragmatic language; Topic management; Turn-taking


Discourse management refers to the ability to organize topics and turns and to repair any communication breakdowns during conversation. Carrying on a conversation involves the appropriate use and coordination of a variety of skills including, initiating and maintaining topics, using eye contact, taking turns, being polite, and observing and responding appropriately to nonverbal behaviors. During discourse, individuals must monitor their own contributions while taking into account the explicit and implicit responses, intentions, and knowledge of their conversational partner(s). The existing literature on language use and conversational skills in individuals with ASD indicates that the ability to contribute new information to topics introduced by others, shift topics appropriately, provide turns for others within conversation, take turns appropriately, and provide repairs for co ...

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