Story Goodness in Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and in Optimal Outcomes From ASD Purpose This study examined narrative quality of adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using a well-studied “story goodness” coding system. Method Narrative samples were analyzed for distinct aspects of story goodness and rated by naïve readers on dimensions of story goodness, accuracy, cohesiveness, and oddness. Adolescents with high-functioning ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2016
Story Goodness in Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and in Optimal Outcomes From ASD
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Allison R. Canfield
    University of Connecticut, Storrs
  • Inge-Marie Eigsti
    University of Connecticut, Storrs
  • Ashley de Marchena
    Center for Autism Research, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, PA
  • Deborah Fein
    University of Connecticut, Storrs
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Inge-Marie Eigsti: inge-marie.eigsti@uconn.edu
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Joanne Volden
    Associate Editor: Joanne Volden×
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Language Disorders / Social Communication & Pragmatics Disorders / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2016
Story Goodness in Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and in Optimal Outcomes From ASD
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2016, Vol. 59, 533-545. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-15-0022
History: Received January 23, 2015 , Revised June 3, 2015 , Accepted October 14, 2015
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2016, Vol. 59, 533-545. doi:10.1044/2015_JSLHR-L-15-0022
History: Received January 23, 2015; Revised June 3, 2015; Accepted October 14, 2015

Purpose This study examined narrative quality of adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) using a well-studied “story goodness” coding system.

Method Narrative samples were analyzed for distinct aspects of story goodness and rated by naïve readers on dimensions of story goodness, accuracy, cohesiveness, and oddness. Adolescents with high-functioning ASD were compared with adolescents with typical development (TD; n = 15 per group). A second study compared narratives from adolescents across three groups: ASD, TD, and youths with “optimal outcomes,” who were diagnosed with ASD early in development but no longer meet criteria for ASD and have typical behavioral functioning.

Results In both studies, the ASD group's narratives had lower composite quality scores compared with peers with typical development. In Study 2, narratives from the optimal outcomes group were intermediate in scores and did not differ significantly from those of either other group. However, naïve raters were able to detect qualitative narrative differences across groups.

Conclusions Findings indicate that pragmatic deficits in ASD are salient and could have clinical relevance. Furthermore, results indicate subtle differences in pragmatic language skills for individuals with optimal outcomes despite otherwise typical language skills in other domains. These results highlight the need for clinical interventions tailored to the specific deficits of these populations.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health Grant R01MH076189 (Deborah Fein), University of Connecticut Research Foundation Grant #458938 (Inge-Marie Eigsti), and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Grant T32NS007413 (Ashley de Marchena).
We would like to thank the participating children and families who made this research possible, as well as contributing members of the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience and Optimal Outcome Labs for their assistance with data collection and coding, including Emily Thompson, Catherine Piotrowski, and Christopher Andrade.
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