Gender Differences in Pragmatic Communication in School-Aged Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
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Possible gender differences in manifestations of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were examined using data on production of narratives. The Expression, Reception and Recall of Narrative Instrument (ERRNI; Bishop, Expression, Reception and Recall of Narrative Instrument, Harcourt assessment, London, 2004) was administered to a sample of matched 8-year-old intellectually able boys and girls with ASD (13M, 13F), who had been selected from a large, longitudinal study. In addition, transcripts of the narratives were analyzed in detail. Significant gender differences were found in narrative production. Girls included more salient story elements than boys. On detailed language analysis, girls were also shown to tell richer stories, including more descriptors of planning or intention. Overall, our findings suggest that subtle differences in social communication may exist between intellectually able boys and girls with ASD. If reliably identifiable in young children, such gender differences may contribute to differential diagnosis of ASD. In addition, such differences may pave the way for differential approaches to intervention when the target is effective communication in sophisticated discourse contexts.
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