International Meeting for Autism Research (London, May 15-17, 2008): The effect of story format on narrative fluency in autism

The effect of story format on narrative fluency in autism

Friday, May 16, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)
E. McGregor , Education, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland
E. Murphy , Psychology, St. Andrews University, St. Andrews
Background: Even high-functioning children with autism have difficulties with narration. Fluency is associated with greater language and theory of mind skills (Capps, Losh & Thurber, 2000; Tager-Flusberg & Sullivan, 1995), better memory (McGregor, in prep) and putatively, central coherence (Ochs & Solomon, 2004). Moreover, less able children with autism are dependent on narrative provision for video-presented false belief tasks and have difficulty keeping pace with video presentation of naturalistic false belief scenes (McGregor and Bennett, 2007). This suggests some children with autism may need more time to process such event sequences, a factor that has implications for making sense of real events. The present pilot study explores this issue with children with autism and typically developing controls.

Objectives: To establish whether presentation format might affect children’s narrative skills and if so, if there are differences for autism and typical development. Poorer narratives for video material than stills in autism would suggest parallel difficulties in keeping pace with day-to-day events, limiting scope for a coherent account.

Methods: Nine children with autism aged 6 – 12 years with a range of language ability and 10 controls are presented on separate occasions with stories with a false belief theme in two formats (video-recording and static picture sequences, constructed from stills from the videos), and are asked to narrate them. Narratives are recorded and analysed for indicators of fluency. Data are compared with those of 10 controls matched for age and 10 matched for language ability.

Results: Interim results indicate a different pattern of narrating for stills versus video, with a possible trade-off between seeing the ‘flow’ of events with video and controlling the pace of presentation through stills

Conclusions: Final analyses will be discussed.

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