School of Education
Jeffrey A. Miller
Ann X. Huang
Diane L. Williams
Autism, Pragmatic language, Social skills
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterized a core triad of symptoms: impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and unusual, repetitive, or severely limited activities and interests (APA, 2000). Impairments in social development, however, have been considered the most salient and handicapping aspect of ASD and, traditionally, the primary deficit from which the diagnosis results. From a cognitive standpoint, it has been argued that these social impairments in individuals with ASDs arise as a result of deficits in Theory of Mind (ToM) development. The degree to which impairment in ToM corresponds to real-world social-communicative impairments has received little attention, however. The purpose of this study was to determine whether ToM and pragmatic language skills discriminated between adolescents with ASD and typically developing, age-matched comparison participants. The study also attempted to explore the relationships between ToM, pragmatic language, and social skills and test the model that pragmatic language mediates the relationship between ToM and social skills. Results indicated that ToM significantly predicted pragmatic language skills and that pragmatic language skills, and not ToM, significantly discriminated between adolescents with ASD (N = 10) and typically developing comparison participants (N = 10). The mediation model above was not supported by regression analysis; however, the results do provide some insight into the relationships between ToM, pragmatic language, and social skills. Implications of these findings, limitations of the study, and recommendations for future research were discussed.
Koch, G. (2012). Theory of Mind, Pragmatic Language, and Social Skills in Male Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://dsc.duq.edu/etd/763