Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 49, Issue 12, pp 4740–4750 | Cite as

Different Factors Predict Idiom Comprehension in Children and Adolescents with ASD and Typical Development

  • Ronit Saban-Bezalel
  • Nira MashalEmail author
Original Paper


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is associated with deficient comprehension of figurative language and, specifically, idioms. Theories ascribe this to deficits in specific abilities (e.g., Theory of Mind [ToM]; executive functions [EF]; general language skills), but no comprehensive theory has resulted. This study investigated the differential contribution of various abilities to idiom comprehension among children and adolescents with ASD compared to matched controls with typical development (TD). The TD group outperformed the ASD group in idiom comprehension. However, whereas EF predicted idiom comprehension in the TD group, vocabulary predicted idiom comprehension in the ASD group. Our findings emphasize the link between general language competence and figurative language comprehension in ASD and point to different processing mechanisms in each group.


ASD Idioms Vocabulary abilities ToM Executive functions 



The authors would like to thank Shira Chana Bienstock for her thorough editorial and scientific review of this manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

We have no conflict of interest to report.

Research Involving Human and Animal Participants

Research involving human participants was conducted under the appropriate institutional ethics committee approval of [masked for revision] University as well the [masked for revision] Ministry of Education. Prior to their children’s participation in the study, all parents received an explanation of the study, and provided signed informed consent. The study was also explained to the children, whose assent to participation was solicited and received. Participant confidentiality and data privacy were protected as required by ethical guidelines and practices.

Supplementary material

10803_2019_4193_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 14 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Communication DisordersAriel UniversityArielIsrael
  2. 2.The School of EducationBar Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael
  3. 3.Gonda Multidisciplinary Brain Research CenterBar Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael

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