Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 383–391 | Cite as

Brief Report: Self-defining and Everyday Autobiographical Memories in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Laura Crane
  • Lorna Goddard
  • Linda Pring
Brief Report


Autobiographical memory impairments in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have been attributed to a failure in using the self as an effective memory organisational system. To explore this hypothesis, we compared self-defining and everyday memories in adults with and without ASD. Results demonstrated that both groups were able to distinguish between self-defining and everyday memories, although the ASD group generated fewer specific memories overall. Despite qualitative similarities between the narratives of the two groups, the adults with ASD extracted less meaning from their narratives. Difficulties in eliciting meaning from memories suggests a failure in using past experiences to update the self. We therefore propose that the self-memory relationship might be static, rather than dynamic, in ASD.


Autism Autobiographical memory Self-defining memory Meaning making 



This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (grant number: PTA-030-2005-00091); and the University of London Central Research Fund. We would like to thank Keely Jo Frasca for her assistance in coding the data, Professor Dermot Bowler for his comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript, Professor Tony Charman for his editorial assistance, and all those who participated in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, GoldsmithsUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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