Before getting down to explaining why autistic children typically have difficulties in an understanding of non-literal language such as metaphor and irony utilizing the Sally-Anne task/test, the main idea of this test is to be considered. Sally-Anne task/test is the ability to recognize the false beliefs in others (Gehring, Debry & Smith 2001). Children with autism usually face “social interaction problems”, “language and communication problems”, and “obsessive rituals and rigidity of behavior” (Villiers & Rhea 2011, p. 1).
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Autistic children are children with a specific perception of the surrounding world. Having problems with distinguishing between the speaker’s intentions from what has already been said, autistic children have problems in understanding metaphors, irony, and other figurative language expressions (Sally 2004).
Autistic children are unable to notice the false belies as their thinking processes are not too developed. Referring to Sally-Anne task/test, it is possible to understand the reasons as when the smallest children see that marble is put into another box, they are unable to imagine that Sally has not seen it and they are sure that Sally is going to search for the marble in the box. The same is with autistic children. When they hear a metaphor or irony, they understand it is a direct way of omitting figurative language characteristics (Baker & Welkowitz 2005; Happé 1995).
Baker, LJ & Welkowitz, LA 2005, Asperger’s Syndrome: Intervening in Schools, Clinics, and Communities, Routledge, London.
Chomsky, N 2006, Language and Mind, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Happé, F 1995, Autism: An Introduction to Psychological Theory, Harvard University Press, Harvard.
Sahin, M 2002, ‘The concepts of language, competence and literature in elt classes’, Selçuk Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Dergisi, pp. 289-303. Web.
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Villiers, P & Rhea, P 2011, ‘Problems with Non-Literal Language in Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders’, Yale University Medical School. Web.