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Autism Research and Treatment
Volume 2013, Article ID 480635, 7 pages
Research Article

The Relationship between Comprehension of Figurative Language by Japanese Children with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders and College Freshmen’s Assessment of Its Conventionality of Usage

1Research Center for Child Mental Development, United Graduate School of Child Development, Kanazawa University, B-b43, 13-1 Takaramachi, Kanazawa 920-8640, Japan
2Nihon Fukushi University Chuo College of Social Services, 3-27-11 Chiyoda, Naka-ku, Nagoya 460-0012, Japan

Received 24 June 2013; Revised 6 September 2013; Accepted 6 September 2013

Academic Editor: Manuel F. Casanova

Copyright © 2013 Manabu Oi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Unlike their English-speaking counterparts, Japanese children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (HFASDs) perform as well as typically developing (TD) children in comprehending metaphor, despite lacking 1st order theory of mind (ToM) reasoning. Additionally, although Japanese sarcasm and “indirect reproach” appear theoretically to need 2nd order ToM reasoning, HFASD children without this comprehended these forms of language as well as TD children. To attempt to explain this contradiction, we asked college freshmen to evaluate the strangeness (unconventionality) of these types of figurative language. We aimed to test the hypothesis that metaphor, sarcasm, and “indirect reproach” might be evaluated as more conventional than irony, which children with HFASDs do not comprehend as well as those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The results for irony, metaphor, and “indirect reproach” supported the hypothesis, while those for sarcasm did not. Sarcasm is comprehended by HFASDs children as well as by TD children despite being evaluated as highly unconventional. This contradiction is discussed from a self-in-relation-to-other perspective. We postulate that a new explanation of disabilities of figurative language comprehension in children with HFASDs is needed instead of relying on a single cognitive process.