This article examines the discourse competence of high- functioning children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) to participate in narrative introduction sequences with family members. The analysis illuminates the children’s own efforts to launch narratives, as well as their ability to build upon the contributions of others. Ethnographic, discourse analytic methodology is integrated with the theory of discourse organization and the weak central coherence account of autism. Introductions of both personal experience narratives as well as fictional narratives (from television programs, computer games and other media) are examined. The children were especially competent in the use of stable introductory practices when launching fictional narratives, pre-organized by the media of expression. Their challenge was not in the introduction, but in the narrative co-telling, which often was not globally organized over an extended course of propositions. The heterogeneity of the ASD children’s discourse competence and its implications for discourse analysis are discussed.
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