Ambiguous pronoun use in narratives of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Rama Novogrodsky, Lisa R. Edelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study explored pronoun production and general syntactic abilities in story retelling and story generation among children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Twenty-four children diagnosed with ASD, ages 6;1-14;3 and 17 typically-developing (TD) children ages 5;11-14;4 participated in the study. The linguistic measures for general syntax were sentence complexity and morpho-syntactic errors. The pronoun production measure was referential use of third person subject, object and possessive pronouns. The results revealed no group differences in general syntactic measures in either task. The ambiguous third person pronoun measure showed different results between the two tasks. Although there was no difference between the groups in the retelling task, children with ASD produced more ambiguous pronouns in the story-generation task than did the TD children. Interestingly, this pattern was shown for different types of pronouns, suggesting a cognitive deficit in monitoring the listener's mental model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-252
Number of pages12
JournalChild Language Teaching and Therapy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This study was supported by grant number U19 DC 03610 from NIDCD.

Publisher Copyright:
© SAGE Publications.


  • autism
  • narratives
  • pragmatics
  • pronouns
  • syntax

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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