An exploration of causes of non-literal language problems in individuals with Asperger syndrome

  • Martin I
  • McDonald S
  • 146


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 121


    Citations of this article.


Individuals with Asperger Syndrome (AS), a high functioning variant of Autism, are often noted to possess intact language ability, yet fail to use this language capacity to engage in interactive communication. This difficulty using language in a social context has been referred to as a deficit in pragmatic language. In particular, difficulty understanding nonliteral language devices, such as irony has been observed. This paper examines the veracity of two theories that have attempted to explain the causes of pragmatic language difficulties in individuals with Asperger Syndrome; the theory of Weak Central Coherence (WCC) and Social Inference theory. Fourteen young adults with AS and 24 age-matched controls were assessed on cognitive tasks measuring WCC processes, social inference or Theory of Mind ability, and the ability to interpret ironic remarks. Results indicated that the ability to understand the belief states of others is critical to understanding ironic language in AS.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Asperger Syndrome
  • Autism
  • Theory of Mind
  • central coherence
  • irony

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document


  • Ingerith Martin

  • Skye McDonald

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free