Comprehension and generation of metaphors by children with autism spectrum disorder

Anat Kasirer, Nira Mashal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Background Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are often associated with reduced figurative language processing. However, recent findings suggest that individuals with ASD are not necessarily impaired in comprehension and generation of novel metaphors relative to typically developing (TD) individuals. The current study expands previous research (Kasirer & Mashal, 2014) findings by examining the comprehension and the generation of metaphors in children with ASD. Method The sample included 34 children with ASD and 39 TD age – matched peers (aged 9–16). A multiple-choice questionnaire consisting of conventional and novel metaphors was used to assess metaphoric comprehension; a concept explanation task was used to test conventional and novel metaphor generation. Results The results indicate that the ASD group understood fewer conventional metaphors than their TD peers. However, no group differences were observed in novel metaphor comprehension task. Furthermore, whereas participants with ASD generated less conventional metaphors they generated more creative and novel metaphors. Conclusion These findings suggest a unique style of thinking with regard to verbal creativity in ASD which occurs already in childhood.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-63
Number of pages11
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd


  • Autism
  • Creativity
  • Executive functions
  • Metaphor generation
  • Novel metaphors


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