Reference Work Entry

Comprehensive Guide to Autism

pp 533-550

Pragmatic Language in Autism: An Overview

  • Yan Grace LamAffiliated withDepartment of Psychological Studies, Hong Kong Institute of Education Email author 


Pragmatics concerns with the acquisition of knowledge necessary for the appropriate and effective use of language in everyday social contexts. It is well known that pragmatic deficits are symptomatic of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, but little is known about how they are related to the cardinal features of the disorders.

In this chapter, studies on pragmatic behaviors specific to Autism Spectrum Disorders were reviewed. Issues pertaining to methodologies and interpretation of findings were addressed. Findings from previous studies were discussed in relation to the prevalent cognitive impairments and brain anomalies observed in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Future efforts should be directed to define the domain of inquiry as well as to develop tools that can detect pragmatic skills at different developmental stage.