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Children with autism align syntax in natural conversation

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    Rights statement: This is the accepted version of the following article: HOPKINS, Z., YUILL, N., & KELLER, B. (2016). Children with autism align syntax in natural conversation. Applied Psycholinguistics, 37(2), 347-370. doi:10.1017/S0142716414000599, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716414000599.

    Accepted author manuscript, 693 KB, PDF document

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-370
Number of pages23
JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
Issue number2
Early online date16 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


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.

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