Character Reference Choice in the Narratives by Persian-speaking Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Introduction: The representation of the character reference in different statuses in the narrative is a multifaceted and complicated discourse task. Since Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is interrelated with social and communication deficits; particularly, children with ASD face more challenges with this task. The present study aimed to examine the introduction, reintroduction, and maintenance of the characters reference by using different linguistic devices in the narratives produced by Persian-speaking children with High-Functioning Autism (HFA).
Materials and Methods: The narratives were elicited based on the picture story book “Frog, where are you?” Two groups of Persian-speaking children, aged 7, 9 and 11 years old, including high-functioning ASD (mean age: 9;5 y; mon) and a control group of Typically Developing (TD) ones (mean age: 9;1 y; mon), each group consisted of 24 subjects participated in this study. Then, the obtained data were analyzed by the Independent sample T Test and Nonparametric Mann-Whitney Test.
Results: The results demonstrated the children with ASD represented referential expressions significantly different from their peer group with regard to using some linguistic devices, in the reference introduction, reintroduction and maintenance (P<0.05). In particular, the use of noun phrases was dominant for introducing the narrative characters in the two groups under study. However, complete ellipsis was significantly used more by ASD subjects for introducing “the boy” character. In addition, TD children used noun phrases, independent pronouns, dependent pronouns and complete ellipsis for the reintroduction of the referents in their narratives more than autistic children. Finally, for the maintenance of “the boy” reference, whereas autistic children used more noun phrases, TD children frequently used complete ellipsis and inflection of verbs.
Conclusion: The choice of appropriate referential expressions for introduction, reintroduction and maintenance of the reference requires cognitive and linguistic skills, in which children with ASD showed deficits. Among these, reference reintroduction revealed the most challenging function for the children with ASD rather than TD children.
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