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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

The Relationship between Comprehension of Figurative Language by Japanese Children with High... Hindawi Publishing Corporation Autism Research and Treatment Volume 2013, Article ID 480635, 7 pages http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/480635 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 1 1 2 Manabu Oi, Sanae Tanaka, and Harue Ohoka Research Center for Child Mental Development, United Graduate School of Child Development, Kanazawa University, B-b43, 13-1 Takaramachi, Kanazawa 920-8640, Japan Nihon Fukushi University Chuo College of Social Services, 3-27-11 Chiyoda, Naka-ku, Nagoya 460-0012, Japan Correspondence should be addressed to Manabu Oi; oimanabu@ed.kanazawa-u.ac.jp 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. eTh 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. 1. Introduction in Japanese conversation [11]. Moreover, Japanese has many varieties of sarcasm [12]. The average Japanese person would As Norbury and Sparks [1]havesuggested,autismspectrum find it hard to distinguish between the English terms “irony” disorders (ASDs) might be better understood when examined and“sarcasm.”Evenamong professionals,theJapanese hiniku from a cultural point of view. Cross-cultural studies might is translated not only as “irony” but occasionally as “sarcasm,” also help to refine cognitive theories of disorder that have as by Adachi et al. [13]. In the present study, irony was defined as “the expression of one’s meaning by using words of the been derived exclusively from North American and European investigations. This is the case for the comprehension of gfi u- opposite meaning in order to make one’s remarks forceful.” rative language in autism [2–9], which seems to vary greatly Sarcasm was defined as “the expression of one’s meaning by between cultures in terms of ways of using metaphorical using words of the opposite meaning in order to taunt the expression and saying something disagreeable. For example, hearer.” in Japanese,metaphors aremorefluidthaninEnglish [ 10]. Additionally, in addition to irony and sarcasm, Japanese Moreover, while irony is regarded as conveying not just a researchers have coined the phrase “indirect reproach” [14], negative meaning but also humor in English, few studies have an expression intended to mitigate a face-threatening act toward the hearer by avoiding direct expression of anger or attempted to investigate any positive role irony has to play 2 Autism Research and Treatment irritation. “Indirect reproach” has been defined as “criticizing understood equally well by the TD and HFASD children. the hearer by referring to any contextual information that Children with HFASDs showed literalness in only four of the relatestothe speaker’sintention.” Englishdoesnot contain 50 sentences. The most interesting nding fi was that HFASD a counterpart for this type of phrase. Investigating how children showed overnonliteral comprehension compared these Japanese gura fi tive language styles are comprehended with TD children for six contextually or grammatically in children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders ambiguous sentences. (HFASDs) seems beneficial for understanding autism from a In terms of the reason why children with HFASDs fail to cross-cultural point of view. comprehend figurative language, Happ e[ ´ 3]postulatedthat English-speaking children with HFASDs nd fi irony more without 1st order ToM reasoning they could not understand difficult to comprehend than metaphor [ 2, 3]. The same metaphor, and without 2nd order reasoning they would appears true for Japanese speakers. Adachi et al. [13]showed fail to comprehend irony. So how do Japanese forms of that Japanese children with Asperger syndrome (AS), ranging sarcasm and “indirect reproach” compare in this regard? in age from 7 to 14 years, comprehended irony less well eTh se two forms of language appear similar to irony in terms than children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder of requiring some metacognitive ability for comprehension. (ADHD) matchedfor IQ andage,while therewas no Awareness of thought might be required on the part of intergroup difference in metaphor comprehension. However, children, meaning that they would need 2nd order ToM these studies differ in terms of theory of mind (ToM) reasoning to comprehend these two types of language. An development in the participants. Unlike the studies of Happe´ example of a sarcasm task given by Yata and Oi [14]was [2, 3], Adachi et al.’s study [13] did not test 2nd order ToM to choose a response describing the mother’s opinion of the reasoning. Among the latter participants, those who passed childfor thefollowing scenario:amother said,“You’re a 1st order ToM tests performed better in comprehending irony genius, aren’t you?” to a child who got a very bad mark than those who failed such tests [13]. It is probable that in an exam (see Appendix for detail). An example of an the participants of Adachi et al.’s [13] study did not achieve “indirect reproach” task given by Yata and Oi [14]was to 2ndorder ToMreasoning.Ifthisisthe case,Adachietal.’s choose a response describing the boy’s opinion of his friend results might differ from those of Happ e[ ´ 3]withrespect in the following scenario: a boy said, “Are you leaving without to the relationship between ToM and irony comprehension. tidying up?” to his friend who was getting ready to go, leaving As for metaphor, Japanese AS children who failed 1st order a mess behind (see Appendix for detail). In addition, Japanese ToM tests comprehended metaphor well [13], unlike their metaphors were again comprehended by children who failed counterparts in Happe’ ´ s study [3], which reported that ado- to demonstrate 1st order ToM reasoning in this study [14] lescents who did not pass 1st order ToM tests also failed to while English ones were not understood by their English- comprehend metaphor. es Th e differences suggest that, at least speaking counterparts in Happe’s study [3]. in Japanese children with HFASDs, 2nd order ToM reasoning Why were English ironic phrases not understood by is not necessary for irony comprehension, and that 1st order children with ASD while Japanese sarcasm and “indirect reasoning is not necessary for metaphor comprehension. reproaches” were, despite the fact that these three forms This suggests that a factor other than ToM reasoning might of figurative phrase appear to equally need 2nd order ToM influence figurative language comprehension, accounting for reasoning? Of 20 children with HFASDs investigated by Yata the differences between Japanese and English in this respect. and Oi [14], nine failed the 2nd order ToM task and three What about gfi urative language other than metaphor and failed even the 1st order ToM task. Why were these children irony in Japanese? In terms of understanding sarcasm and without 2nd order ToM reasoning able to comprehend “indirectreproach,”Yataand Oi [14] investigated children sarcasm and “indirect reproach”? Additionally, why could with HFASDs, ranging in age from 8 to 15 years, and typically Japanese metaphors be comprehended by those showing developing (TD) children matched for age and receptive no 1st order TOM reasoning, while English ones were not vocabulary. When these children were presented with vfi e understood by their English-speaking counterparts? Japanese sentences for each type of language (i.e., 10 sentences in total) and English seem to differ greatly from each other in terms in the written form, no differences in comprehension were of gfi urative language comprehension from the viewpoint evident between the two groups. In addition to this, Taguchi of ToM. This reminds us of the theory by Hinds [ 17]that et al. [15] investigated children with HFASDs, ranging in Japanese is a listener-responsible language while English is age from 8 to 16 years, and age-matched TD children. aTh t a speaker-responsible language. With less responsibility to study had similar ndin fi gs regarding sarcasm and “indirect make the message as clear as possible for the hearer, speakers reproach” comprehension. of Japanese could rely more on gfi urative language than those Oi and Tanaka [16] compared children with HFASDs of English. This might uniquely influence the development of (ranging in grade from 2nd to 6th) and grade-matched TD figurative language comprehension in Japanese children with children with regard to comprehending ambiguous sentences and without HFASDs when compared with their English- including metaphor and sarcasm but not irony. eTh y found speaking counterparts. intergroup differences for only 10 of 50 sentences. es Th e 10 u Th s, another explanation for these differences should sentences included one metaphor (Appendix) and nine gram- be sought otherthanthe developmentofToM reasoning. matically, lexically, or contextually ambiguous sentences. Of One possible factor is the role of conventionality or salience the 10 metaphors, no group difference in understanding [8] in comprehending figurative language. The most suitable wasfound fornine, andthe twoexamplesofsarcasm were example of this in English comes from Ozonoff and Miller [ 4]. Autism Research and Treatment 3 In investigating humor, inference, and indirect request com- The study was conducted in accordance with Declaration of prehension in adults with autism and preserved intelligence Helsinki (1964). quotient, they showed that “Can you ...?” type questions First, the freshmen were asked to rate the strangeness of were comprehended more nonliterally by adults with autism 10 combinations of a written sentence and written scenario than by matchedcontrols. eTh yarguedthatindividuals with in which the sentence was embedded; these had previously autism have overlearned the rule that questions beginning been used in Adachi et al.’s study [13] (see Appendix). Of with “Can you ...” should be interpreted in a nonliteral way. the 10 sentences, vfi e were ironic phrases and the remaining In everyday situations, such syntactic forms are more likely vfi e were metaphors, all of which had been presented to to be polite requests for action than inquiries about ability. 123 children. These children were diagnosed according to Ozonoff and Miller [ 4] assumed that individuals with autism the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, may be less able to use context to determine when this rule Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), as having AS (𝑛=66 ,57boys should not be applied, due to difficulty inhibiting familiar and nine girls, mean age = 9.8 years, and SD = 2.0), high- or overlearned responses. This might relate to a deficit in functioning autism (HFA) (𝑛=20 ,17boysand threegirls, executive function. mean age = 9.4 years, and SD = 2.0), or ADHD (𝑛=37 , Inanycase,itisworthevaluatingfigurativelanguagetasks 33 boys and four girls, mean age = 9.4 years, and SD = 1.8). in terms of their conventionality in order to better explain Mean full-scale IQ as measured by the third edition of the why Japanese sarcasm, “indirect reproach,” and metaphor Wechsler Intelligence Scale was 98.6 (SD = 14.0), 93.4 (SD = were successfully comprehended by children with HFASDs, 12.8), and 98.2 (SD = 14.7), respectively, for each group. eTh irrespective of the level of ToM achieved. Statements in these written sentences were presented to the children who read three categories might be evaluated as more conventional them and were then asked to choose one of vfi e answers to when compared with irony. Thishypothesisisplausible a question based on the sentences. eTh answers consisted of because Giora et al. [8]showedthat“thegradedsalience literal, nonliteral, irrelevant, and situational responses as well hypothesis” could explain why their participants with AS as a response indicating that the child had not understood the responded to metaphorical and literal language in a similar question. way to that of controls. According to their study, both the Second, the freshmen were asked to rate the strangeness AS group and controls performed worse on novel expressions of another 10 combinations of the written sentences and than on familiar ones, whether literal or metaphorical. The scenarios given by Yata and Oi [14] (see Appendix) in which novelty and familiarity of expressions were defined opera- the sentence was embedded. Of these 10 sentences, vfi e tionally by the authors. In the present study, we instead deter- were sarcastic phrases and the remaining ve fi were “indirect minedthe degreeofnovelty of gfi urativelanguagebyhaving reproaches.” They had been presented to 20 children with it evaluated by college freshmen, like Oi and Tanaka [18]did HFASDs diagnosed according to DSM-VI criteria (17 boys in showing that the comprehension of ambiguous language and three girls, mean age = 11.99 years, and SD = 2.08) and tasks in children with HFASDs was highly correlated with 20 TD children (13 boys and seven girls, mean age = 11.35 the evaluation of the sentences in terms of conventionality by years, and SD = 2.71). eTh se were matched for raw scores in college freshmen. The correlation ( 𝑟 ) between children’s mean the Picture Vocabulary Test, for which the mean score for literal-nonliteral preference magnitude (comprehension) and HFASDschildrenwas61.7(SD=6.0)andthatforTDchildren freshmen’s mean strangeness rating (unconventionality) was was 59.0 (SD = 7.4). There was no intergroup difference in −0.65 (𝑃 < 0.001 ) for children with HFASDs and −0.67 either age or raw score of the test. es Th e HFASD children (𝑃<0.001 ) for TD children. eTh two 𝑟 values did not differ ranged in full-scale IQ from 71 to 129 (mean = 93.9, SD = significantly from each other. 13.4), when assessed using the third edition of the Wechsler The present study tested the abovementioned hypothesis Intelligence Scale within a year before the data collection. that metaphor, sarcasm, and “indirect reproach” would be Children were asked to read the sarcasm and “indirect evaluated as more conventional than “irony” by asking college reproach” scenarios and to answer a question based on these students to evaluate from the viewpoint of conventional- scenarios by choosing one of three options consisting of ity examples of these forms of language previously given literal, nonliteral, and situational answers. In addition to this, to children with and without HFASDs. We compared the 10 more combinations of the written sentences and scenarios conventionality evaluation among these four categories of given by Taguchi et al. [15]wererated by thefreshmen. figurative language. Similarly, of the10, vfi eweresarcastic phrasesand therest were “indirect reproaches.” es Th e had been presented to 17 children with HFASDs (14 boys and 3 girls, ranging in age from 8.67 to 16.08 years; the mean and SD were not obtained) 2. Materials and Methods and 15 TD children (13 boys and 2 girls, ranging in age from 2.1. Participants. University freshmen were recruited in ran- 7.08 to 16.33 years; mean and SD were not obtained). dom order. Participants were 98 male freshmen (mean age = Third, the freshmen were asked to rate the degree of strangeness of 20 combinations of a sentence and a cartoon 19.50 years, SD = 0.74) and 96 female freshmen (mean age = 19.19 years, SD = 0.64). picture representing the nonliteral and literal interpretations None of the freshmen were evaluated for autistic person- of the sentence (see Appendix). es Th e sentences were all metaphors. These had been given by Oi and Tanaka [ 16]to ality traits. They were asked to rate the strangeness (uncon- ventionality) of gfi urative language assigned to children. 2ndto6th graderswithHFASDs(40 boys andfive girls, mean 4 Autism Research and Treatment grade = 4.29, and SD = 1.27) and 45 TD children matched ∗∗∗ exactly for grade and gender who were extracted in random ∗∗∗ ∗∗∗ ∗∗∗ order from 666 2nd to 6th graders at an elementary school. ∗∗∗ The TD children all attended regular classes, received no specialeducational services,and hadnosensory or motor impairments. All the HFASD children were assessed by psychiatrists or pediatricians as fulfilling the criteria for at least one of the pervasive developmental disorders of DSM- IV-text revision (TR). They also all attended regular classes. All HFASDs children were assessed using the third edition of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale within a year before the data were collected: full-scale IQ ranged from 79 to 129 (M = 97.56, SD = 17.54) and verbal-IQ from 80 to 136 (M = 98.87, Irony Metaphor Sarcasm Indirect SD = 17.81). No standardized intelligence scale was admin- reproach isteredtoTDchildren, becausethisisnot normal practice Figurative language types among typical council elementary schools in Japan. Children ∗∗∗ P < .001 were asked to use a vfi e-point scale to indicate whether they Significant difference between HFASDs and ADHD agreed with the literal or nonliteral interpretation of the No significant difference between HFASDs and TD or cartoon. A summary of the abovementioned studies is shown ADHD in Table 1. Figure 1: Mean evaluation values of strangeness (unconventional- ity) by college freshmen for each figurative language type. 2.2. Procedures. The freshmen rated all the gura fi tive lan- guage phrases listed above on a vfi e-point scale. The strangest (most unconventional) was assigned a score of 5 and the least strange (most conventional) a score of 1. preferred a literal meaning more frequently than did TD First, we compared strangeness (unconventionality) values children was not rated differently from the remaining nine among ironic phrases, metaphors (from Adachi et al. [13]), metaphors. sarcasm, and “indirect reproach” (from Yata and Oi [14]and Taguchi et al. [15]) using the Wilcoxon Signed Ranks test. For 4. Discussion this comparison, and that described below, the test was two- tailed, with𝑍 values used to calculate𝑃 values. Second, for eTh results did not fully support the hypothesis that the less Oi and Tanaka’s [16] data, we made a comparison between strangeafigurativelanguagestatement wasrated,the more one metaphor (Appendix), in which children with HFASDs easily it would be comprehended by children with HFASD. preferred the literal interpretation more frequently than did eTh results for the ironic statements support the hypothesis as TD children, and the remaining nine metaphors in which no these statements were evaluated as highly strange by college intergroup difference was found. The freshmen’s strangeness freshmen and were more difficult for children with HFASDs evaluation of the former metaphor was compared to that of than for those with ADHD to comprehend [13]. The findings the latter metaphors using the Wilcoxon Signed Ranks test. for metaphor and “indirect reproach” also supported the Direct associations between freshmen’s strangeness eval- hypothesis as both types of statements were evaluated as less uation and children’s interpretation of each gura fi tive phrase strange and were comprehended as well by children with couldnot be assessed as theauthors of thepresent study HFASDs as by their TD counterparts [14, 15]. The exception did not have access to the full data of Adachi et al. [13]. was sarcasm. Although sarcastic phrases were evaluated by Therefore, in the present study, indirect associations between the college students as the most strange among the four types freshmen’s strangeness evaluation and children’s ability to of gfi urativelanguage, thesephrases were comprehended as interpret gura fi tive phrases were analyzed. well by children with HFASDs as by TD children, despite the lack of the 2nd order ToM reasoning in nearly half of the children with HFASDs [14]. 3. Results Two questions arise here. The rfi st is why only irony As shown in Figure 1, ironic statements were rated as stranger was poorly understood by Japanese children with HFASDs (less conventional) than metaphors (Wilcoxon Signed Ranks while the other three types of language were comprehended. test:𝑍 scores were applied to calculate𝑃 ;𝑧=−11.812 ,𝑃< The ironic statements investigated in the present study were 0.001) and “indirect reproaches” (𝑧 = −11.829 ,𝑃 < 0.001 ). evaluated as highly strange (far less conventional than typical Sarcastic phrases were rated as stranger (less conventional) statements). Giora et al. [8]postulate that conventionality than metaphors (𝑧 = −12.047 , 𝑃 < 0.001 ), “indirect can be seen as a major determinant influencing figurative reproaches” (𝑧=−12.048 ,𝑃<0.001 ), and ironic statements language comprehension both in children with HFASDs and (𝑧 = −5.290 ,𝑃 < 0.001 ). No difference was found between in TD children. eTh y contend that making sense of nonliteral metaphors and “indirect reproaches.” For the 10 metaphors language relies on the salience of that language. According from Okamoto [11], the one in which children with HFASD to their graded salience hypothesis, novelty (in other words, Mean strangeness score (max =5,min =1) Autism Research and Treatment 5 Table 1: Summary of the studies by Adachi et al. [ 13], Yata and Oi [14], Taguchi et al. [15], and Oi and Tanaka [16]. Number of children ToM 1st ToM 2nd Tasks Results 66 AS children 15 failed — 5 ironic statements Difference between AS and ADHD in Adachi et al. [13] 20 HFASD children 7 failed — 5metaphors comprehension of irony 37 ADHD children 4 failed — 5 sarcastic statements No intergroup difference in 20 HFA children 3failed 9failed Yata and Oi [14] 5 indirect reproaches comprehension of sarcasm, indirect 20 TD children 1failed 8failed 5 indirect requests reproaches, or indirect requests 5 sarcastic statements No intergroup difference in 17 HFASD children — — Taguchi et al. [15] 5 indirect reproaches comprehension of sarcasm, indirect 15 TD children — — 5 indirect requests reproaches, or indirect requests 53 HFASD children — — Intergroup difference in Oi and Tanaka [16] 10 metaphors comprehension of 1 metaphor 50 TD children — — unconventionality) matters rather than nonliterality. This imperatives. Happe[ ´ 19] predicted that the former requires appears to hold true regarding the high degree of strangeness 2nd order metarepresentation while the latter requires only of ironic statements in the present study,r which were poorly 1st order metarepresentation. eTh sarcastic statements and understood by children with HFASDs, and it is also borne out “indirect reproaches” investigated here seem to demand the by the low degree of strangeness of metaphors and “indirect child to interpret the speaker’s thoughts regarding the hearer reproaches,” both of which were understood by children with in the scenario. If this is true, how can we explain the n fi ding HFASDs. that nearly half of the participants of the studies of Yata and The present ndin fi gs regarding sarcasm, however, do not Oi [14] failed the 2nd order ToM task? support the graded salience hypothesis at all. We need an One plausible explanation is again the absence of a need explanation that applies to both failure to understand ironic for the child to put her/himself in the shoes of another statements and ability to comprehend sarcastic ones. A closer character to comprehend the statement. Hence, without look at the ironic statements used by Adachi et al. [13]might requiring 2nd order ToM reasoning, children could com- lend some insight into this. Of the vfi e ironic statements prehend sarcasm by logical computations such as those investigated, four are not addressed directly from one char- postulated by Oi and Tanaka [18]inlearningtorecognize acter to the other in the scenario. Rather these were told in situations wherepeople“do notmeanwhattheysay.” To do the form of a soliloquy with a humorous feel. In addition to this,childrenwould usesimplerules such as literallyfalse or this, in the remaining ironic statement, the child was asked puzzling speech + smile = joke, or literally false or puzzling to assume he or she was directly given the statement from speech + frown = sarcasm. The sarcastic phrases investigated another character in the scenario. In contrast, all the sarcastic in the present study were exchanged between third parties statements investigated were addressed from one character to for the child. The child could accordingly behave as just an the other in the scenario. To succeed in comprehending these observer of the scenario who computes the meaning of the vfi e ironic statements, children had to put themselves in the figurative language. If children had not achieved 2nd order shoes of the character that made the statement or received ToM reasoning and sarcasm was not very familiar to them, the statement, while such a need did not exist for the sarcastic they could comprehend these scenarios “correctly” by the sort statements to be comprehended. In this regard, the metaphors of computation mentioned above, rather than “appropriately” and “indirect reproaches” investigated were similar to the by putting themselves in the place of the character in the sarcastic statements in that the children did not need to put scenario. However, children who had achieved 2nd order themselves in the place of the listener or speaker. Hence, in ToM reasoning could of course use this rather than the more metaphor, sarcasm, and “indirect reproach,” it seems that the difficult computation. On the other hand, as suggested by the child would have understood the statement when he or she present ndin fi gs, “indirect reproach” might be more familiar could observe correctly what the scenario depicted. than sarcasm, so that the child has the choice of relying on The second question to be addressed is whether or not retrieving the memory of the meaning of “indirect reproach” sarcasm and “indirect reproach” are of sufficient difficulty as as well as computation regarding the third parties, instead of to require 2nd order ToM reasoning to be understood. Happe´ using 2nd order ToM reasoning for comprehension. [19]suggested this wasthe case,asshe,based on thefindings Taguchi et al. [15] found, although not for the four of Sperber and Wilson [20], made a distinction between an categories of figurative language investigated here, that chil- utterance that requires elucidation of “an interpretation of dren with HFASDs failed to respond to indirect requests an attributed thought or a desirable thought” and one that appropriately when these were directly addressed to them requires interpretation of “a description of an actual state of from adults, yet they succeeded when asked to choose an affairs or a desirable state of affairs.” She stated that the former appropriate response from three types of responses when an type of utterance includes ironic statements and interroga- indirect request scenario was written or played on a screen. tives, and the latter includes ordinary assertions and basic This indicates that the dicffi ulty relates to self-awareness, 6 Autism Research and Treatment Strange between third parties. This might help children observe the gfi urativelanguageand thescenarioinwhich thelanguageis embedded, leading to correct computation of the meaning. When comparing Japanese and English in terms of figurative language comprehension, we require a new way of explaining disabilities in figurative language comprehension as emer- ∗∗∗ gent products of complex interactions among sociocognitive activities [21]. Not strange The findings of the present study merit further inves- Doctor’s A resident tigation that directly examines the relationship between egg· HFASD children’s comprehension and freshmen’s evaluation of strangeness of gfi urative language. Oisha-san no tamago Appendices Doctor An egg Figure 2 A. Examples from Adachi et al. [13] A.1. Irony. When Jiro’s mother got home, she saw clothes left particularly the need to put oneself in another’s place in the on thefloorofJiro’sroom. As shelookedatthis, shesaid, “Jiro scenarios with embedded ironic statements. In responding always leaves his room in a tidy state.” Does the mother think appropriately to indirect requests such as “Is your mother of Jiro as there?” (meaning “Call your mother”) via telephone, children (a) a boy who is organized, have to put themselves in the shoes of the speaker. Children with HFASDs, indeed, failed this task [16]. We should there- (b) being messy, fore take a self-in-relation-to-other perspective [9]when (c) being a boy, investigating gura fi tive language comprehension in autism, (d) taking a bath, as well as considering ToM, conventionality (salience), weak central coherence, or executive dysfunction (the latter two (e) I do not know. factors were not discussed in the present study). Comprehension of gfi urative language does not consist of A.2. Metaphor. A boy called Goro always wins sprint races. a single cognitive process, but should instead be thought of Taro, another boy, while watching Goro leaving the other as a product of complex activities of various sociocognitive runners behind, said, “Look, Goro looks like a cheetah!.” Taro processes. thinks of Goro as (a) being a cheetah, 5. Conclusion (b) being handsome, Findings of studies on Japanese children with HFASDs (c) being a fast runner, suggest that the development of ToM reasoning is not the (d) leaving other runners behind, sole determinant of figurative language comprehension. eTh conventionality of gfi urative language also seems to inu fl ence (e) I do not know. comprehension. The conventionality of gfi urative language canbemeasuredbyhavingcollege freshmen evaluate its B. Examples from Yata and Oi [14]and strangeness (unconventionality). Our findings suggest that Taguchi et al. [15] Japanese ironic statements were difficult for children with HFASDs to comprehend as these were evaluated as far B.1. Sarcasm. When a boy got a very bad mark in an exam, the more strange than metaphors and “indirect reproaches.” In mother told him, “You’re a genius, aren’t you?”, while looking addition to this, Japanese ironic statements seem to require at the exam paper. What did the mother actually want to children to put themselves in the position of a character in the communicate? scenario. eTh combination of this with high strangeness may explain why such statements were difficult to comprehend (a) Her son is a genius. for children with HFASDs. For Japanese sarcastic phrases (b) Her son is not a genius at all. alone, conventionality did not appear to matter, as these were (c) Her son got a bad mark in an exam. well comprehended by children with HFASDs despite (like ironic statements) being evaluated as far more strange than metaphors, “indirect reproaches,” or ironic statements. This B.2. Indirect Reproach. When a friend of a boy was about can be explained by neither the developmental level of ToM to leave a mess behind aer ft having played with many toys, reasoning nor the degree of strangeness (unconventionality), the boy told his friend, “Are you leaving without tidying up?” but from the fact that the sarcastic phrases were exchanged What did the boy actually want to communicate? Autism Research and Treatment 7 (a) Hisfriendisleaving now. [13] T. Adachi, S. Hirabayashi, M. Shiota et al., “eTh study of situational recognition of attention deficit/hyperactivity disor- (b) His friend has a very bad attitude. ders, Asperger’s disorder and high functioning autism with the metaphor and sarcasm scenario test (MSST),” No To Hattatsu, (c) eTh y have played with many toys. vol. 38,no. 3, pp.177–181,2006. [14] A. Yata and M. Oi, “Comprehension of indirect speech in C. An Example from Oi and Tanaka [18] children with high-functioning pervasive developmental disor- ders,” Japanese Journal of Learning Disabilities,vol.18, no.2,pp. See Figure 2. 128–137, 2009. [15] A. Taguchi, M. Oi, and K. Takahashi, “Comprehension of indi- rect speech in children with high functioning pervasive devel- Conflict of Interests opmental disorders under different task conditions,” Japanese Journal of Communication Disorders,vol.27, no.3,pp. 168–177, The authors declare no conflict of interests. [16] M. Oi and S. Tanaka, “Comprehension of ambiguous language Acknowledgments in children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder,” eTh Japanese Journal of Communication Disorders ,vol.27, no.1, This research was supported by a Grant (Grant-in-Aid for pp. 10–18, 2010. Scientific Research no. 23653184) from the Japan Society [17] J. Hinds, “Readerversuswriterresponsibility: anew typology,” for the Promotion of Science. eTh authors thank Ms. Yumi in Writing Across Languages: Analysis of L2 Text,U.Connor Azuma for her assistance with data collection. and B. Kaplan, Eds., pp. 141–152, Addison-Wesley, Jacob Way Reading, MA,USA,1987. [18] M. Oi and S. Tanaka, “When do Japanese children with References autism spectrum disorder comprehend ambiguous language [1] C. F. Norbury and A. Sparks, “Difference or disorder? 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Perkins, Pragmatic Impairment, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2007. [4] S. Ozonoff and J. N. Miller, “An exploration of right-hemisphere contributions to the pragmatic impairments of autism,” Brain and Language,vol.52, no.3,pp. 411–434, 1996. [5] G. MacKay and A. Shaw, “A comparative study of figurative language in children with autistic spectrum disorders,” Child Language Teaching and eTh rapy ,vol.20, no.1,pp. 13–32, 2004. [6] G. Rundblad and D. Annaz, “eTh atypical development of metaphor and metonymy comprehension in children with autism,” Autism,vol.14, no.1,pp. 29–46, 2010. [7] S.Melogno,C.D’Ardia,M.A.Pinto,and G. Levi,“Metaphor comprehension in autistic spectrum disorders: case studies of two high-functioning children,” Child Language Teaching and Therapy , vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 177–188, 2012. [8] R. Giora, O. Gazal, I. Goldstein, O. Fein, and A. 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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

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Hindawi Publishing Corporation Autism Research and Treatment Volume 2013, Article ID 480635, 7 pages http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/480635 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 1 1 2 Manabu Oi, Sanae Tanaka, and Harue Ohoka Research Center for Child Mental Development, United Graduate School of Child Development, Kanazawa University, B-b43, 13-1 Takaramachi, Kanazawa 920-8640, Japan Nihon Fukushi University Chuo College of Social Services, 3-27-11 Chiyoda, Naka-ku, Nagoya 460-0012, Japan Correspondence should be addressed to Manabu Oi; oimanabu@ed.kanazawa-u.ac.jp 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. eTh 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. 1. Introduction in Japanese conversation [11]. Moreover, Japanese has many varieties of sarcasm [12]. The average Japanese person would As Norbury and Sparks [1]havesuggested,autismspectrum find it hard to distinguish between the English terms “irony” disorders (ASDs) might be better understood when examined and“sarcasm.”Evenamong professionals,theJapanese hiniku from a cultural point of view. Cross-cultural studies might is translated not only as “irony” but occasionally as “sarcasm,” also help to refine cognitive theories of disorder that have as by Adachi et al. [13]. In the present study, irony was defined as “the expression of one’s meaning by using words of the been derived exclusively from North American and European investigations. This is the case for the comprehension of gfi u- opposite meaning in order to make one’s remarks forceful.” rative language in autism [2–9], which seems to vary greatly Sarcasm was defined as “the expression of one’s meaning by between cultures in terms of ways of using metaphorical using words of the opposite meaning in order to taunt the expression and saying something disagreeable. For example, hearer.” in Japanese,metaphors aremorefluidthaninEnglish [ 10]. Additionally, in addition to irony and sarcasm, Japanese Moreover, while irony is regarded as conveying not just a researchers have coined the phrase “indirect reproach” [14], negative meaning but also humor in English, few studies have an expression intended to mitigate a face-threatening act toward the hearer by avoiding direct expression of anger or attempted to investigate any positive role irony has to play 2 Autism Research and Treatment irritation. “Indirect reproach” has been defined as “criticizing understood equally well by the TD and HFASD children. the hearer by referring to any contextual information that Children with HFASDs showed literalness in only four of the relatestothe speaker’sintention.” Englishdoesnot contain 50 sentences. The most interesting nding fi was that HFASD a counterpart for this type of phrase. Investigating how children showed overnonliteral comprehension compared these Japanese gura fi tive language styles are comprehended with TD children for six contextually or grammatically in children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders ambiguous sentences. (HFASDs) seems beneficial for understanding autism from a In terms of the reason why children with HFASDs fail to cross-cultural point of view. comprehend figurative language, Happ e[ ´ 3]postulatedthat English-speaking children with HFASDs nd fi irony more without 1st order ToM reasoning they could not understand difficult to comprehend than metaphor [ 2, 3]. The same metaphor, and without 2nd order reasoning they would appears true for Japanese speakers. Adachi et al. [13]showed fail to comprehend irony. So how do Japanese forms of that Japanese children with Asperger syndrome (AS), ranging sarcasm and “indirect reproach” compare in this regard? in age from 7 to 14 years, comprehended irony less well eTh se two forms of language appear similar to irony in terms than children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder of requiring some metacognitive ability for comprehension. (ADHD) matchedfor IQ andage,while therewas no Awareness of thought might be required on the part of intergroup difference in metaphor comprehension. However, children, meaning that they would need 2nd order ToM these studies differ in terms of theory of mind (ToM) reasoning to comprehend these two types of language. An development in the participants. Unlike the studies of Happe´ example of a sarcasm task given by Yata and Oi [14]was [2, 3], Adachi et al.’s study [13] did not test 2nd order ToM to choose a response describing the mother’s opinion of the reasoning. Among the latter participants, those who passed childfor thefollowing scenario:amother said,“You’re a 1st order ToM tests performed better in comprehending irony genius, aren’t you?” to a child who got a very bad mark than those who failed such tests [13]. It is probable that in an exam (see Appendix for detail). An example of an the participants of Adachi et al.’s [13] study did not achieve “indirect reproach” task given by Yata and Oi [14]was to 2ndorder ToMreasoning.Ifthisisthe case,Adachietal.’s choose a response describing the boy’s opinion of his friend results might differ from those of Happ e[ ´ 3]withrespect in the following scenario: a boy said, “Are you leaving without to the relationship between ToM and irony comprehension. tidying up?” to his friend who was getting ready to go, leaving As for metaphor, Japanese AS children who failed 1st order a mess behind (see Appendix for detail). In addition, Japanese ToM tests comprehended metaphor well [13], unlike their metaphors were again comprehended by children who failed counterparts in Happe’ ´ s study [3], which reported that ado- to demonstrate 1st order ToM reasoning in this study [14] lescents who did not pass 1st order ToM tests also failed to while English ones were not understood by their English- comprehend metaphor. es Th e differences suggest that, at least speaking counterparts in Happe’s study [3]. in Japanese children with HFASDs, 2nd order ToM reasoning Why were English ironic phrases not understood by is not necessary for irony comprehension, and that 1st order children with ASD while Japanese sarcasm and “indirect reasoning is not necessary for metaphor comprehension. reproaches” were, despite the fact that these three forms This suggests that a factor other than ToM reasoning might of figurative phrase appear to equally need 2nd order ToM influence figurative language comprehension, accounting for reasoning? Of 20 children with HFASDs investigated by Yata the differences between Japanese and English in this respect. and Oi [14], nine failed the 2nd order ToM task and three What about gfi urative language other than metaphor and failed even the 1st order ToM task. Why were these children irony in Japanese? In terms of understanding sarcasm and without 2nd order ToM reasoning able to comprehend “indirectreproach,”Yataand Oi [14] investigated children sarcasm and “indirect reproach”? Additionally, why could with HFASDs, ranging in age from 8 to 15 years, and typically Japanese metaphors be comprehended by those showing developing (TD) children matched for age and receptive no 1st order TOM reasoning, while English ones were not vocabulary. When these children were presented with vfi e understood by their English-speaking counterparts? Japanese sentences for each type of language (i.e., 10 sentences in total) and English seem to differ greatly from each other in terms in the written form, no differences in comprehension were of gfi urative language comprehension from the viewpoint evident between the two groups. In addition to this, Taguchi of ToM. This reminds us of the theory by Hinds [ 17]that et al. [15] investigated children with HFASDs, ranging in Japanese is a listener-responsible language while English is age from 8 to 16 years, and age-matched TD children. aTh t a speaker-responsible language. With less responsibility to study had similar ndin fi gs regarding sarcasm and “indirect make the message as clear as possible for the hearer, speakers reproach” comprehension. of Japanese could rely more on gfi urative language than those Oi and Tanaka [16] compared children with HFASDs of English. This might uniquely influence the development of (ranging in grade from 2nd to 6th) and grade-matched TD figurative language comprehension in Japanese children with children with regard to comprehending ambiguous sentences and without HFASDs when compared with their English- including metaphor and sarcasm but not irony. eTh y found speaking counterparts. intergroup differences for only 10 of 50 sentences. es Th e 10 u Th s, another explanation for these differences should sentences included one metaphor (Appendix) and nine gram- be sought otherthanthe developmentofToM reasoning. matically, lexically, or contextually ambiguous sentences. Of One possible factor is the role of conventionality or salience the 10 metaphors, no group difference in understanding [8] in comprehending figurative language. The most suitable wasfound fornine, andthe twoexamplesofsarcasm were example of this in English comes from Ozonoff and Miller [ 4]. Autism Research and Treatment 3 In investigating humor, inference, and indirect request com- The study was conducted in accordance with Declaration of prehension in adults with autism and preserved intelligence Helsinki (1964). quotient, they showed that “Can you ...?” type questions First, the freshmen were asked to rate the strangeness of were comprehended more nonliterally by adults with autism 10 combinations of a written sentence and written scenario than by matchedcontrols. eTh yarguedthatindividuals with in which the sentence was embedded; these had previously autism have overlearned the rule that questions beginning been used in Adachi et al.’s study [13] (see Appendix). Of with “Can you ...” should be interpreted in a nonliteral way. the 10 sentences, vfi e were ironic phrases and the remaining In everyday situations, such syntactic forms are more likely vfi e were metaphors, all of which had been presented to to be polite requests for action than inquiries about ability. 123 children. These children were diagnosed according to Ozonoff and Miller [ 4] assumed that individuals with autism the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, may be less able to use context to determine when this rule Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), as having AS (𝑛=66 ,57boys should not be applied, due to difficulty inhibiting familiar and nine girls, mean age = 9.8 years, and SD = 2.0), high- or overlearned responses. This might relate to a deficit in functioning autism (HFA) (𝑛=20 ,17boysand threegirls, executive function. mean age = 9.4 years, and SD = 2.0), or ADHD (𝑛=37 , Inanycase,itisworthevaluatingfigurativelanguagetasks 33 boys and four girls, mean age = 9.4 years, and SD = 1.8). in terms of their conventionality in order to better explain Mean full-scale IQ as measured by the third edition of the why Japanese sarcasm, “indirect reproach,” and metaphor Wechsler Intelligence Scale was 98.6 (SD = 14.0), 93.4 (SD = were successfully comprehended by children with HFASDs, 12.8), and 98.2 (SD = 14.7), respectively, for each group. eTh irrespective of the level of ToM achieved. Statements in these written sentences were presented to the children who read three categories might be evaluated as more conventional them and were then asked to choose one of vfi e answers to when compared with irony. Thishypothesisisplausible a question based on the sentences. eTh answers consisted of because Giora et al. [8]showedthat“thegradedsalience literal, nonliteral, irrelevant, and situational responses as well hypothesis” could explain why their participants with AS as a response indicating that the child had not understood the responded to metaphorical and literal language in a similar question. way to that of controls. According to their study, both the Second, the freshmen were asked to rate the strangeness AS group and controls performed worse on novel expressions of another 10 combinations of the written sentences and than on familiar ones, whether literal or metaphorical. The scenarios given by Yata and Oi [14] (see Appendix) in which novelty and familiarity of expressions were defined opera- the sentence was embedded. Of these 10 sentences, vfi e tionally by the authors. In the present study, we instead deter- were sarcastic phrases and the remaining ve fi were “indirect minedthe degreeofnovelty of gfi urativelanguagebyhaving reproaches.” They had been presented to 20 children with it evaluated by college freshmen, like Oi and Tanaka [18]did HFASDs diagnosed according to DSM-VI criteria (17 boys in showing that the comprehension of ambiguous language and three girls, mean age = 11.99 years, and SD = 2.08) and tasks in children with HFASDs was highly correlated with 20 TD children (13 boys and seven girls, mean age = 11.35 the evaluation of the sentences in terms of conventionality by years, and SD = 2.71). eTh se were matched for raw scores in college freshmen. The correlation ( 𝑟 ) between children’s mean the Picture Vocabulary Test, for which the mean score for literal-nonliteral preference magnitude (comprehension) and HFASDschildrenwas61.7(SD=6.0)andthatforTDchildren freshmen’s mean strangeness rating (unconventionality) was was 59.0 (SD = 7.4). There was no intergroup difference in −0.65 (𝑃 < 0.001 ) for children with HFASDs and −0.67 either age or raw score of the test. es Th e HFASD children (𝑃<0.001 ) for TD children. eTh two 𝑟 values did not differ ranged in full-scale IQ from 71 to 129 (mean = 93.9, SD = significantly from each other. 13.4), when assessed using the third edition of the Wechsler The present study tested the abovementioned hypothesis Intelligence Scale within a year before the data collection. that metaphor, sarcasm, and “indirect reproach” would be Children were asked to read the sarcasm and “indirect evaluated as more conventional than “irony” by asking college reproach” scenarios and to answer a question based on these students to evaluate from the viewpoint of conventional- scenarios by choosing one of three options consisting of ity examples of these forms of language previously given literal, nonliteral, and situational answers. In addition to this, to children with and without HFASDs. We compared the 10 more combinations of the written sentences and scenarios conventionality evaluation among these four categories of given by Taguchi et al. [15]wererated by thefreshmen. figurative language. Similarly, of the10, vfi eweresarcastic phrasesand therest were “indirect reproaches.” es Th e had been presented to 17 children with HFASDs (14 boys and 3 girls, ranging in age from 8.67 to 16.08 years; the mean and SD were not obtained) 2. Materials and Methods and 15 TD children (13 boys and 2 girls, ranging in age from 2.1. Participants. University freshmen were recruited in ran- 7.08 to 16.33 years; mean and SD were not obtained). dom order. Participants were 98 male freshmen (mean age = Third, the freshmen were asked to rate the degree of strangeness of 20 combinations of a sentence and a cartoon 19.50 years, SD = 0.74) and 96 female freshmen (mean age = 19.19 years, SD = 0.64). picture representing the nonliteral and literal interpretations None of the freshmen were evaluated for autistic person- of the sentence (see Appendix). es Th e sentences were all metaphors. These had been given by Oi and Tanaka [ 16]to ality traits. They were asked to rate the strangeness (uncon- ventionality) of gfi urative language assigned to children. 2ndto6th graderswithHFASDs(40 boys andfive girls, mean 4 Autism Research and Treatment grade = 4.29, and SD = 1.27) and 45 TD children matched ∗∗∗ exactly for grade and gender who were extracted in random ∗∗∗ ∗∗∗ ∗∗∗ order from 666 2nd to 6th graders at an elementary school. ∗∗∗ The TD children all attended regular classes, received no specialeducational services,and hadnosensory or motor impairments. All the HFASD children were assessed by psychiatrists or pediatricians as fulfilling the criteria for at least one of the pervasive developmental disorders of DSM- IV-text revision (TR). They also all attended regular classes. All HFASDs children were assessed using the third edition of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale within a year before the data were collected: full-scale IQ ranged from 79 to 129 (M = 97.56, SD = 17.54) and verbal-IQ from 80 to 136 (M = 98.87, Irony Metaphor Sarcasm Indirect SD = 17.81). No standardized intelligence scale was admin- reproach isteredtoTDchildren, becausethisisnot normal practice Figurative language types among typical council elementary schools in Japan. Children ∗∗∗ P < .001 were asked to use a vfi e-point scale to indicate whether they Significant difference between HFASDs and ADHD agreed with the literal or nonliteral interpretation of the No significant difference between HFASDs and TD or cartoon. A summary of the abovementioned studies is shown ADHD in Table 1. Figure 1: Mean evaluation values of strangeness (unconventional- ity) by college freshmen for each figurative language type. 2.2. Procedures. The freshmen rated all the gura fi tive lan- guage phrases listed above on a vfi e-point scale. The strangest (most unconventional) was assigned a score of 5 and the least strange (most conventional) a score of 1. preferred a literal meaning more frequently than did TD First, we compared strangeness (unconventionality) values children was not rated differently from the remaining nine among ironic phrases, metaphors (from Adachi et al. [13]), metaphors. sarcasm, and “indirect reproach” (from Yata and Oi [14]and Taguchi et al. [15]) using the Wilcoxon Signed Ranks test. For 4. Discussion this comparison, and that described below, the test was two- tailed, with𝑍 values used to calculate𝑃 values. Second, for eTh results did not fully support the hypothesis that the less Oi and Tanaka’s [16] data, we made a comparison between strangeafigurativelanguagestatement wasrated,the more one metaphor (Appendix), in which children with HFASDs easily it would be comprehended by children with HFASD. preferred the literal interpretation more frequently than did eTh results for the ironic statements support the hypothesis as TD children, and the remaining nine metaphors in which no these statements were evaluated as highly strange by college intergroup difference was found. The freshmen’s strangeness freshmen and were more difficult for children with HFASDs evaluation of the former metaphor was compared to that of than for those with ADHD to comprehend [13]. The findings the latter metaphors using the Wilcoxon Signed Ranks test. for metaphor and “indirect reproach” also supported the Direct associations between freshmen’s strangeness eval- hypothesis as both types of statements were evaluated as less uation and children’s interpretation of each gura fi tive phrase strange and were comprehended as well by children with couldnot be assessed as theauthors of thepresent study HFASDs as by their TD counterparts [14, 15]. The exception did not have access to the full data of Adachi et al. [13]. was sarcasm. Although sarcastic phrases were evaluated by Therefore, in the present study, indirect associations between the college students as the most strange among the four types freshmen’s strangeness evaluation and children’s ability to of gfi urativelanguage, thesephrases were comprehended as interpret gura fi tive phrases were analyzed. well by children with HFASDs as by TD children, despite the lack of the 2nd order ToM reasoning in nearly half of the children with HFASDs [14]. 3. Results Two questions arise here. The rfi st is why only irony As shown in Figure 1, ironic statements were rated as stranger was poorly understood by Japanese children with HFASDs (less conventional) than metaphors (Wilcoxon Signed Ranks while the other three types of language were comprehended. test:𝑍 scores were applied to calculate𝑃 ;𝑧=−11.812 ,𝑃< The ironic statements investigated in the present study were 0.001) and “indirect reproaches” (𝑧 = −11.829 ,𝑃 < 0.001 ). evaluated as highly strange (far less conventional than typical Sarcastic phrases were rated as stranger (less conventional) statements). Giora et al. [8]postulate that conventionality than metaphors (𝑧 = −12.047 , 𝑃 < 0.001 ), “indirect can be seen as a major determinant influencing figurative reproaches” (𝑧=−12.048 ,𝑃<0.001 ), and ironic statements language comprehension both in children with HFASDs and (𝑧 = −5.290 ,𝑃 < 0.001 ). No difference was found between in TD children. eTh y contend that making sense of nonliteral metaphors and “indirect reproaches.” For the 10 metaphors language relies on the salience of that language. According from Okamoto [11], the one in which children with HFASD to their graded salience hypothesis, novelty (in other words, Mean strangeness score (max =5,min =1) Autism Research and Treatment 5 Table 1: Summary of the studies by Adachi et al. [ 13], Yata and Oi [14], Taguchi et al. [15], and Oi and Tanaka [16]. Number of children ToM 1st ToM 2nd Tasks Results 66 AS children 15 failed — 5 ironic statements Difference between AS and ADHD in Adachi et al. [13] 20 HFASD children 7 failed — 5metaphors comprehension of irony 37 ADHD children 4 failed — 5 sarcastic statements No intergroup difference in 20 HFA children 3failed 9failed Yata and Oi [14] 5 indirect reproaches comprehension of sarcasm, indirect 20 TD children 1failed 8failed 5 indirect requests reproaches, or indirect requests 5 sarcastic statements No intergroup difference in 17 HFASD children — — Taguchi et al. [15] 5 indirect reproaches comprehension of sarcasm, indirect 15 TD children — — 5 indirect requests reproaches, or indirect requests 53 HFASD children — — Intergroup difference in Oi and Tanaka [16] 10 metaphors comprehension of 1 metaphor 50 TD children — — unconventionality) matters rather than nonliterality. This imperatives. Happe[ ´ 19] predicted that the former requires appears to hold true regarding the high degree of strangeness 2nd order metarepresentation while the latter requires only of ironic statements in the present study,r which were poorly 1st order metarepresentation. eTh sarcastic statements and understood by children with HFASDs, and it is also borne out “indirect reproaches” investigated here seem to demand the by the low degree of strangeness of metaphors and “indirect child to interpret the speaker’s thoughts regarding the hearer reproaches,” both of which were understood by children with in the scenario. If this is true, how can we explain the n fi ding HFASDs. that nearly half of the participants of the studies of Yata and The present ndin fi gs regarding sarcasm, however, do not Oi [14] failed the 2nd order ToM task? support the graded salience hypothesis at all. We need an One plausible explanation is again the absence of a need explanation that applies to both failure to understand ironic for the child to put her/himself in the shoes of another statements and ability to comprehend sarcastic ones. A closer character to comprehend the statement. Hence, without look at the ironic statements used by Adachi et al. [13]might requiring 2nd order ToM reasoning, children could com- lend some insight into this. Of the vfi e ironic statements prehend sarcasm by logical computations such as those investigated, four are not addressed directly from one char- postulated by Oi and Tanaka [18]inlearningtorecognize acter to the other in the scenario. Rather these were told in situations wherepeople“do notmeanwhattheysay.” To do the form of a soliloquy with a humorous feel. In addition to this,childrenwould usesimplerules such as literallyfalse or this, in the remaining ironic statement, the child was asked puzzling speech + smile = joke, or literally false or puzzling to assume he or she was directly given the statement from speech + frown = sarcasm. The sarcastic phrases investigated another character in the scenario. In contrast, all the sarcastic in the present study were exchanged between third parties statements investigated were addressed from one character to for the child. The child could accordingly behave as just an the other in the scenario. To succeed in comprehending these observer of the scenario who computes the meaning of the vfi e ironic statements, children had to put themselves in the figurative language. If children had not achieved 2nd order shoes of the character that made the statement or received ToM reasoning and sarcasm was not very familiar to them, the statement, while such a need did not exist for the sarcastic they could comprehend these scenarios “correctly” by the sort statements to be comprehended. In this regard, the metaphors of computation mentioned above, rather than “appropriately” and “indirect reproaches” investigated were similar to the by putting themselves in the place of the character in the sarcastic statements in that the children did not need to put scenario. However, children who had achieved 2nd order themselves in the place of the listener or speaker. Hence, in ToM reasoning could of course use this rather than the more metaphor, sarcasm, and “indirect reproach,” it seems that the difficult computation. On the other hand, as suggested by the child would have understood the statement when he or she present ndin fi gs, “indirect reproach” might be more familiar could observe correctly what the scenario depicted. than sarcasm, so that the child has the choice of relying on The second question to be addressed is whether or not retrieving the memory of the meaning of “indirect reproach” sarcasm and “indirect reproach” are of sufficient difficulty as as well as computation regarding the third parties, instead of to require 2nd order ToM reasoning to be understood. Happe´ using 2nd order ToM reasoning for comprehension. [19]suggested this wasthe case,asshe,based on thefindings Taguchi et al. [15] found, although not for the four of Sperber and Wilson [20], made a distinction between an categories of figurative language investigated here, that chil- utterance that requires elucidation of “an interpretation of dren with HFASDs failed to respond to indirect requests an attributed thought or a desirable thought” and one that appropriately when these were directly addressed to them requires interpretation of “a description of an actual state of from adults, yet they succeeded when asked to choose an affairs or a desirable state of affairs.” She stated that the former appropriate response from three types of responses when an type of utterance includes ironic statements and interroga- indirect request scenario was written or played on a screen. tives, and the latter includes ordinary assertions and basic This indicates that the dicffi ulty relates to self-awareness, 6 Autism Research and Treatment Strange between third parties. This might help children observe the gfi urativelanguageand thescenarioinwhich thelanguageis embedded, leading to correct computation of the meaning. When comparing Japanese and English in terms of figurative language comprehension, we require a new way of explaining disabilities in figurative language comprehension as emer- ∗∗∗ gent products of complex interactions among sociocognitive activities [21]. Not strange The findings of the present study merit further inves- Doctor’s A resident tigation that directly examines the relationship between egg· HFASD children’s comprehension and freshmen’s evaluation of strangeness of gfi urative language. Oisha-san no tamago Appendices Doctor An egg Figure 2 A. Examples from Adachi et al. [13] A.1. Irony. When Jiro’s mother got home, she saw clothes left particularly the need to put oneself in another’s place in the on thefloorofJiro’sroom. As shelookedatthis, shesaid, “Jiro scenarios with embedded ironic statements. In responding always leaves his room in a tidy state.” Does the mother think appropriately to indirect requests such as “Is your mother of Jiro as there?” (meaning “Call your mother”) via telephone, children (a) a boy who is organized, have to put themselves in the shoes of the speaker. Children with HFASDs, indeed, failed this task [16]. We should there- (b) being messy, fore take a self-in-relation-to-other perspective [9]when (c) being a boy, investigating gura fi tive language comprehension in autism, (d) taking a bath, as well as considering ToM, conventionality (salience), weak central coherence, or executive dysfunction (the latter two (e) I do not know. factors were not discussed in the present study). Comprehension of gfi urative language does not consist of A.2. Metaphor. A boy called Goro always wins sprint races. a single cognitive process, but should instead be thought of Taro, another boy, while watching Goro leaving the other as a product of complex activities of various sociocognitive runners behind, said, “Look, Goro looks like a cheetah!.” Taro processes. thinks of Goro as (a) being a cheetah, 5. Conclusion (b) being handsome, Findings of studies on Japanese children with HFASDs (c) being a fast runner, suggest that the development of ToM reasoning is not the (d) leaving other runners behind, sole determinant of figurative language comprehension. eTh conventionality of gfi urative language also seems to inu fl ence (e) I do not know. comprehension. The conventionality of gfi urative language canbemeasuredbyhavingcollege freshmen evaluate its B. Examples from Yata and Oi [14]and strangeness (unconventionality). Our findings suggest that Taguchi et al. [15] Japanese ironic statements were difficult for children with HFASDs to comprehend as these were evaluated as far B.1. Sarcasm. When a boy got a very bad mark in an exam, the more strange than metaphors and “indirect reproaches.” In mother told him, “You’re a genius, aren’t you?”, while looking addition to this, Japanese ironic statements seem to require at the exam paper. What did the mother actually want to children to put themselves in the position of a character in the communicate? scenario. eTh combination of this with high strangeness may explain why such statements were difficult to comprehend (a) Her son is a genius. for children with HFASDs. For Japanese sarcastic phrases (b) Her son is not a genius at all. alone, conventionality did not appear to matter, as these were (c) Her son got a bad mark in an exam. well comprehended by children with HFASDs despite (like ironic statements) being evaluated as far more strange than metaphors, “indirect reproaches,” or ironic statements. This B.2. Indirect Reproach. When a friend of a boy was about can be explained by neither the developmental level of ToM to leave a mess behind aer ft having played with many toys, reasoning nor the degree of strangeness (unconventionality), the boy told his friend, “Are you leaving without tidying up?” but from the fact that the sarcastic phrases were exchanged What did the boy actually want to communicate? Autism Research and Treatment 7 (a) Hisfriendisleaving now. [13] T. Adachi, S. Hirabayashi, M. Shiota et al., “eTh study of situational recognition of attention deficit/hyperactivity disor- (b) His friend has a very bad attitude. ders, Asperger’s disorder and high functioning autism with the metaphor and sarcasm scenario test (MSST),” No To Hattatsu, (c) eTh y have played with many toys. vol. 38,no. 3, pp.177–181,2006. [14] A. Yata and M. Oi, “Comprehension of indirect speech in C. An Example from Oi and Tanaka [18] children with high-functioning pervasive developmental disor- ders,” Japanese Journal of Learning Disabilities,vol.18, no.2,pp. See Figure 2. 128–137, 2009. [15] A. Taguchi, M. Oi, and K. Takahashi, “Comprehension of indi- rect speech in children with high functioning pervasive devel- Conflict of Interests opmental disorders under different task conditions,” Japanese Journal of Communication Disorders,vol.27, no.3,pp. 168–177, The authors declare no conflict of interests. [16] M. Oi and S. Tanaka, “Comprehension of ambiguous language Acknowledgments in children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder,” eTh Japanese Journal of Communication Disorders ,vol.27, no.1, This research was supported by a Grant (Grant-in-Aid for pp. 10–18, 2010. Scientific Research no. 23653184) from the Japan Society [17] J. Hinds, “Readerversuswriterresponsibility: anew typology,” for the Promotion of Science. eTh authors thank Ms. Yumi in Writing Across Languages: Analysis of L2 Text,U.Connor Azuma for her assistance with data collection. and B. Kaplan, Eds., pp. 141–152, Addison-Wesley, Jacob Way Reading, MA,USA,1987. [18] M. Oi and S. Tanaka, “When do Japanese children with References autism spectrum disorder comprehend ambiguous language [1] C. F. Norbury and A. Sparks, “Difference or disorder? 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Perkins, Pragmatic Impairment, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2007. [4] S. Ozonoff and J. N. Miller, “An exploration of right-hemisphere contributions to the pragmatic impairments of autism,” Brain and Language,vol.52, no.3,pp. 411–434, 1996. [5] G. MacKay and A. Shaw, “A comparative study of figurative language in children with autistic spectrum disorders,” Child Language Teaching and eTh rapy ,vol.20, no.1,pp. 13–32, 2004. [6] G. Rundblad and D. Annaz, “eTh atypical development of metaphor and metonymy comprehension in children with autism,” Autism,vol.14, no.1,pp. 29–46, 2010. [7] S.Melogno,C.D’Ardia,M.A.Pinto,and G. Levi,“Metaphor comprehension in autistic spectrum disorders: case studies of two high-functioning children,” Child Language Teaching and Therapy , vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 177–188, 2012. [8] R. Giora, O. Gazal, I. Goldstein, O. Fein, and A. 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