Inner speech impairments in autism

A.J.O. Whitehouse, Murray Maybery, K.A. Durkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Three experiments investigated the role of inner speech deficit in cognitive performances of children with autism. Methods: 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. Results: 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. Conclusions: Individuals with autism have limitations in their use of inner speech.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)857-865
JournalJournal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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