Characteristics of narrative language in autism spectrum disorder: Evidence from the Finnish
This study examined linguistic and pragmatic aspects of narrative abilities of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which have not been studied thoroughly and not at all in Finnish. Sixteen five- to ten-year-old Finnish high-functioning children with ASD (mean age 7;7 years) and 16 age-matched typically developing children (mean age 7;5 years) participated in this study. Children's picture-based narrations were analyzed for narrative productivity, syntactic complexity, referential accuracy, event content, use of additional and extraneous information, mental state expressions, and narrative comprehension. Several linguistic- and pragmatic-based measures were used in order to gain a comprehensive picture of strengths and weaknesses that children with ASD might show in storytelling. The use of linguistic structure, referential accuracy and mental state expressions was similar between the groups. However, children with ASD showed difficulties in establishing informative story content, making inferences from story events and an ability not to include extraneous information into their stories. Therefore, the problems seen in their narrative language use can be described as being related to pragmatic aspects of narration.