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Volume 28Number 2 publication date:Dec. 2015
Conversational Repair in School-Aged Children with High-Functioning Autism
    Author:Pei-Mei Lu, Pao-Hsiang Chi*, & Hui-Chun Yang
Research Article


The main purpose of this study was to investigate the  conversational repair skills of Mandarin Chinese-speaking children with high-functioning autism (HFA) as compared with those of typically developing children (TD). Ten school-aged children (age 9 to 12) with HFA were recruited and matched against ten TD children in the control group based on age, gender, and verbal intelligence level. During three different conversation situations (free talk, story picture description, play), an examiner engineered 9 episodes of communicative breakdowns. Each consisted of a stacked series of three prompts for responding to requests for clarification (RQCLs) (i.e.‘What?’, ‘I don’t understand’, ‘I still don’t know’). Verbal responses to each RQCL were then coded for further analyses. The results showed that (1) In response to the stacked series RQCLs, children with HFA were similar to the control group children in evidencing repetition, revision, and addition types of repair.  Furthermore, children with HFA showed fewer cue type of repair and more inappropriate type of repair than TD group. (2)For both groups, the pattern of responding over the series of RQCLs was similar in varying the repetition and revision types of repair strategies. However, the pattern in the addition, cue, and inappropriate types of repair strategies were different. Children with HFA were significantly more likely to respond to an RQCL with an inappropriate response than the language and age-matched controls. It is suggested that teachers and parents could facilitate the conversational repair skills of children with high-functioning autism by offering them pportunities to manage different types of communicative breakdowns.

Keywords: autism, communication, conversational repair, pragmatics

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