Atypical interaction: What does it mean to be pragmatically impaired?

Johanna Rendle-Short, associate professor at the Australian National University, will give a guest lecture on pragmatic impairment in children diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome or High Functioning Autism.

Portrait of Dr. Johanna Rendle-Short 

Dr. Johanna Rendle-Short researches within the areas of spoken interaction and discourse, and is particularly interested in how children with Asperger’s Syndrome or High Functioning Autism communicate with those around them. Below is an abstract for the guest lecture, which will be given in English. The event is open to everyone.

Atypical interaction: What does it mean to be pragmatically impaired? 

One of the features of autism spectrum disorder is ‘persistent deficits in social interaction’ (Diagnostic Statistical Manual V). But the question arises as to what exactly is meant by such deficits when analysing everyday conversations between the affected person and their conversational partner. This paper will focus on the basic unit of interaction, the adjacency pair, comprising a first pair part (FPP) and a second pair part (SPP). A FPP/SPP could be question/answer, instruction/response, order/response, suggestion/response, compliment/response. The paper will show how children diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome are more likely to provide an appropriate turn-at-talk when in a structured, predictable interactional environment. For example, they find it easier to provide a SPP response when asked a FPP question due the structural constraints of the adjacency pair. In contrast, it is interactionally more difficult to initiate their own FPP as they have to work out where, when and how to ask the question (FPP) given that the FPP needs to be in a sequentially appropriate environment. The paper will highlight what pragmatic impairment can mean for those engaged in everyday talk and how conversational partners can scaffold the interaction in order to ensure that the progressivity of the interaction is maintained.


Jan Svennevig
Published Aug. 7, 2018 11:46 AM - Last modified Aug. 7, 2018 11:54 AM