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1.
The atypical pattern of irony comprehension in autistic children
Francesca Panzeri, Greta Mazzaggio, Beatrice Giustolisi, Silvia Silleresi, Luca Surian, 2022, original scientific article

Abstract: Nonliteral language understanding has always been recognized as problematic in autistic individuals. We ran a study on 26 autistic children (mean age = 7.3 years) and 2 comparison groups of typically developing children, 1 matched for chronological age, and 1 of younger peers (mean age = 6.11 years) matched for linguistic abilities, aiming at assessing their understanding of ironic criticisms and compliments, and identifying the cognitive and linguistic factors that may underpin this ability. Autistic participants lagged behind the comparison groups in the comprehension of both types of irony, and their performance was related to mindreading and linguistic abilities. Significant correlations were found between first-order Theory of Mind (ToM) and both types of irony, between second-order ToM and ironic compliments, and between linguistic abilities and ironic criticisms. The autistic group displayed an interesting, and previously unattested in the literature, bimodal distribution: the great majority of them (n = 18) displayed a very poor performance in irony understanding, whereas some (n = 6) were at ceiling. We discuss these results in terms of two different profiles of autistic children.
Keywords: irony, autism spectrum disorder, experimental pragmatics, theory of mind, irony comprehension
Published in RUNG: 05.05.2022; Views: 1434; Downloads: 0
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2.
The theory of mind's role in pronoun acquisition : the phenomenon of pronoun reversal in typically developing children
Greta Mazzaggio, 2016, original scientific article

Abstract: This study’s aim is to understand how children learn first- and second-person singular pronouns. Many researchers tried to find possible connection between Theory of Mind (ToM) and the acquisition of pronouns. The ability to produce and comprehend first- and second-person singular pronouns seems closely linked with the ability to appreciate other people’s mental states: a lack or non-mature development of ToM may thus affect their competence in using pronouns. To strengthen this hypothesis we focused on the phenomenon of pronoun reversal, which mainly consists in the substitution of I for you, and you for I, testing a group of 17 typically developing children - 38 to 70 months of age. Due to its pro-drop classification, Italian is the focus language of this study. The outcome showed a correlation between the phenomena of ToM and pronoun reversal. Further research should focus on the directionality of this correlation and better our understanding of its meaning.
Keywords: pronoun reversal, pronouns, echolalia, theory of mind, typically developing children, psycholinguistics
Published in RUNG: 27.09.2021; Views: 1813; Downloads: 45
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Autism and pronoun reversal : a ToM perspective
Greta Mazzaggio, 2015, unpublished conference contribution

Keywords: autism, theory of mind, pronouns
Published in RUNG: 23.09.2021; Views: 1620; Downloads: 0
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7.
Autism and pronoun reversal : a theory-of-mind perspective
Greta Mazzaggio, 2015, unpublished conference contribution

Keywords: autism, theory of mind, pronouns
Published in RUNG: 23.09.2021; Views: 1683; Downloads: 0
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8.
Addressing the debate on pronoun reversal, caused by Theory of Mind or by Echolalia?
Greta Mazzaggio, invited lecture at foreign university

Abstract: Pronoun reversal is among the most interesting errors of early child language. It mainly consists in the substitution of I for you, and you for I; during these years, such reversal has often been associated mainly with Autistic Spectrum Disorder but recent studies have shown that the phenomena also occur in typically developing children with almost the same frequency (Evans, K.E., Demuth, K., 2012). Many theories on the cause of pronoun reversals have been proposed but the problem remains puzzling because a lot of children who reverse pronouns occasionally produce also correct forms. Moreover, it is a phenomenon which is not present in all the children (Dale, P.S., Crain- Thoreson, C., 1993). Of the two of the main hyphoteses related to pronoun reversal, one links it to a lack of a Theory of Mind (ToM), another relates it to echolalia. Based on two different surveys I conducted, I would like to address the debate. With the first study I wanted to verify whether pronoun reversals is related to a lack or to a non- mature development of ToM (Wechsler, S., 2010) testing a group of typically developing children with a series of ToM tasks ordered by a degree of complexity, from less to more complex. Then I created four tasks to verify their competence in using pronouns: focus position, pronoun with verb agreement, null form and pronouns other than first and second singular forms. We administered this experiment to a group of 17 Italian children - 38 to 70 months of age - because such tasks have never been performed before for Italian language. In this respect, Italian is more complex than English, mainly for two aspects: it’s a pro-drop language, that is a language in which some pronouns can be omitted if they are pragmatically inferable, and there is agreement between the subject pronoun and the verb, which is another factor that we must take into account. With the second study I analysed spontaneous speech uttered by a 15-years-old boy officially diagnosed with Kleefstra Syndrome and known to be a reverser, focusing on cases of pronoun reversal. At the end of the two studies I have data in favor of both ToM hypothesis and echolalia hypothesis. Further researches should verify if echolalia can be related with a lack of ToM and the differences in pronoun reversal between typically developing children and children with disorders.
Keywords: echolalia, language development, theory of mind, pronouns, pronoun reversal, autism developmental disorders
Published in RUNG: 22.09.2021; Views: 1985; Downloads: 0
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9.
Autismo e Inversione Pronominale: l’ipotesi della Teoria della Mente.
Greta Mazzaggio, invited lecture at foreign university

Keywords: autism developmental disorder, pragmatics, language development, theory of mind
Published in RUNG: 22.09.2021; Views: 1697; Downloads: 0
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10.
Indirect speech acts in high functioning autism
Greta Mazzaggio, Simona Di Paola, Eleonora Marocchini, Filippo Domaneschi, 2019, published scientific conference contribution abstract

Abstract: Few works have addressed the processing of indirect requests in High-Functioning Autism (HFA), and results are conflicting. Some studies report HFA individuals’ difficulties in indirect requests comprehension; others suggest that it might be preserved in HFA. Furthermore, the role of Theory of Mind in understanding indirect requests is an open issue. The goal of this work is twofold: first, assessing whether comprehension of indirect requests for information is preserved in HFA; second, explor- ing whether mind-reading skills predict this ability. We tested a group of (n = 14; 9–12 years) HFA children and two groups of younger (n = 19; 5–6 years) and older (n = 28; 9–12 years) typically developing (TD) children in a semi-structured task involving direct, indirect and highly indirect requests for information. Results suggested that HFA can understand indirect and highly indirect requests, as well as TD children. Yet, while Theory of Mind skills seem to enhance older TD children under- standing, this is not the case for HFA children. Therefore, interestingly, they could rely on different interpretative strategies
Keywords: indirect speech act, indirect requests, theory of mind, autism developmental disorders, experimental pragmatics
Published in RUNG: 22.09.2021; Views: 1714; Downloads: 45
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