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Dynamic Assessment of Figurative Language of Children in the Autistic Spectrum: The Relation to Some Cognitive and Language Aspects

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The objectives of this study were to examine (a) differences in figurative language, analogical reasoning, executive functions (EF), theory of mind (ToM), and local/ central coherence (LCC) of children with high-functioning autism (HFA; n = 32) and typically developing (TD; n = 32) children; (b) improvement of figurative language using dynamic assessment; and (c) prediction of proverbial understanding by the cognitive variables. A sample of 5- to 11-year-old children with HFA was pair matched with a group of TD children on age, gender, vocabulary, and socioeconomic status (SES). Participants were administered tests of proverbial understanding, metaphorical construction, analogies, language ability, EF, LCC, and ToM. TD children scored higher than children with HFA on all tests. In the HFA group, proverbial understanding was predicted by LCC and verbal ability and in the TD group by metaphorical construction and EF. These findings refute the argument that figurative language among HFA is a function of only verbal ability.
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Keywords: DYNAMIC ASSESSMENT; FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE; HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM (HFA); LOCAL/CENTRAL COHERENCE; METAPHORICAL CONSTRUCTION; PROVERBIAL UNDERSTANDING

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2017

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