The I in Autism: severity and social functioning in Autism is related to self-processing

Karri Gillespie-Smith, Carrie Ballantyne, Holly P. Branigan, David J. Turk, Sheila J. Cunningham

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    18 Citations (Scopus)
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    It is well established that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show impaired understanding of others and deficits within social functioning. However, it is still unknown whether self-processing is related to these impairments and to what extent self impacts social functioning and communication. Using an ownership paradigm, we show that children with ASD and chronological- and verbal-age-matched typically developing (TD) children do show the self-referential effect in memory. In addition, the self-bias was dependent on symptom severity and socio-communicative ability. Children with milder ASD symptoms were more likely to have a high self-bias, consistent with a low attention to others relative to self. In contrast, severe ASD symptoms were associated with reduced self-bias, consistent with an ‘absent-self’ hypothesis. These findings indicate that deficits in self-processing may be related to impairments in social cognition for those on the lower end of the autism spectrum.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)127-141
    Number of pages15
    JournalBritish Journal of Developmental Psychology
    Issue number1
    Early online date21 Nov 2017
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


    • Self
    • Ownership
    • Autism
    • Autism spectrum disorder
    • Individual differences


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