Chapter 6. Reading for sound and reading for meaning in autism

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In their classic 1983 study, Frith and Snowling reported evidence for a dissociation in autism between intact semantic processing of single words, but relative difficulty on tests of sentence or paragraph comprehension. Here, we revisit the 7 experiments in Frith and Snowling’s paper, in the light of the several dozen subsequent studies that have sought to replicate or extend their findings. We note that Frith and Snowling’s results have stood the test of time remarkably well. There is, however, converging evidence that many of the semantic impairments previously considered to be “autism specific” may in fact be better accounted for by co-occurring language impairment.


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