Brief report: A scale for rating conversational impairment in autism spectrum disorder

Jessica De Villiers, Jonathan Fine, Gary Ginsberg, Liezanne Vaccarella, Peter Szatmari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


There are few well-standardized measures of conversational breakdown in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The study's objective was to develop a scale for measuring pragmatic impairments in conversations of individuals with ASD. We analyzed 46 semi-structured conversations of children and adolescents with high-functioning ASD using a functional linguistic paradigm. Five constructs were developed that assessed difficulties related to the pragmatics of conversation: atypical intonation; semantic drift; terseness; pedantic speech; perseveration. The scale shows good inter-rater reliability and variation in the scales is not simply a reflection of IQ or language competence. This tool represents a way of characterizing language use in ASD and is an initial step towards developing a tool to evaluate change in degree of social impairments in conversation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1375-1380
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This research was supported by grants from the Ontario Mental Health Foundation and by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant to J. de Villiers. We want to thank the children and families who participated in this project.


  • ASD
  • Asperger syndrome
  • Conversation
  • Linguistic analysis
  • Pragmatic difficulties


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