Language and False-Belief Task Performance in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder Purpose Language is related to false-belief (FB) understanding in both typically developing children and children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The current study examined the role of complementation and general language in FB understanding. Of interest was whether language plays similar or different roles in the groups' FB performance. ... Research Article
Research Article  |   July 12, 2017
Language and False-Belief Task Performance in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • M. Jeffrey Farrar
    Psychology Department, University of Florida, Gainesville
  • Hye Kyeung Seung
    Department of Human Communication Studies, California State University, Fullerton
  • Hyeonjin Lee
    Department of Early Childhood Education, Yeungnam University, North Gyeongsang, Korea
  • 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 M. Jeffrey Farrar: farrar@ufl.edu
  • Editor: Sean Redmond
    Editor: Sean Redmond×
  • Associate Editor: Patricia Eadie
    Associate Editor: Patricia Eadie×
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   July 12, 2017
Language and False-Belief Task Performance in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, July 2017, Vol. 60, 1999-2013. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-15-0422
History: Received December 8, 2015 , Revised May 6, 2016 , Accepted January 11, 2017
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, July 2017, Vol. 60, 1999-2013. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-L-15-0422
History: Received December 8, 2015; Revised May 6, 2016; Accepted January 11, 2017

Purpose Language is related to false-belief (FB) understanding in both typically developing children and children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The current study examined the role of complementation and general language in FB understanding. Of interest was whether language plays similar or different roles in the groups' FB performance.

Method Participants were 16 typically developing children (mean age = 5.0 years; mental age = 6.7) and 18 with ASD (mean age = 7.3 years; mental age = 8.3). Children were administered FB and language tasks (say- and think-complements), receptive and expressive vocabulary tests, and relative clauses.

Results When mental age and receptive and expressive vocabulary were used as separate covariates, the typical control group outperformed the children with ASD in FB task performance. Chi-square analyses indicated that passing both complementation tasks was linked to the FB understanding of children with ASD. Children with ASD who passed FB tasks all passed say- and think-complement tasks. However, some children in the control group were able to pass the FB tasks, even if they failed the say- and think-complement tasks.

Conclusion The results indicate that children with ASD relied more on complement understanding to pass FB than typically developing children. Results are discussed regarding the developmental pathways for FB understanding.

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