Children with autism align syntax in natural conversation

Zoe Hopkins, Nicola Yuill, Bill Keller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous experimental work has shown that verbal children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) converge linguistically, or align, with an interlocutor, and to the same extent as typical children. However, it is not known whether ASD children align in natural conversation. The studies presented in this paper aimed to address this issue. We measured syntactic alignment in ASD children, first using an experimental task, and second in natural conversation. We found that ASD and typical children aligned to the same extent in both tasks, suggesting that experimental findings about alignment in ASD are ecologically valid. We argue, however, that the experimental measurement of alignment overstates the prevalence of syntactic alignment in children's conversations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-370
Number of pages23
JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
Issue number2
Early online date16 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


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