Inner speech impairments in autism

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Experiment 1 compared children with autism with ability-matched controls on a verbal recall task presenting pictures and words. Experiment 2 used pictures for which the typical names were either single syllable or multisyllable. Two encoding conditions manipulated the use of verbal encoding. Experiment 3 employed a task-switching paradigm for which performance has been shown to be contingent upon inner speech.


In Experiment 1, children with autism demonstrated a lower picture-superiority effect compared to controls. In Experiment 2, the children with autism showed a lower word-length effect when pictures were presented alone, but a more substantial word-length effect in a condition requiring overt labelling. In Experiment 3, articulatory suppression affected the task-switching performance of the control participants only.


Individuals with autism have limitations in their use of inner speech.

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