Kids on the Spectrum and Their 'Pedantic' Style of Speaking

 “I read a lot online that children with Autism have a ‘pedantic’ style of speaking. Can you help me to understand what that means?”

While kids with ASD [High-Functioning Autism] may have begun talking at an appropriate age, they often used a rather long-winded (and sometimes rather concrete or literal) style of speaking.  Pedantic describes speech that is overly-focused on the details of its topic. 
It is speech that appears to list details about a topic one after the other. In a child on the autism spectrum, this type of speech does not appear to be impacted by the environment (e.g., by the nonverbal cues of others), and therefore seems less conversational and more like a monologue.

In addition, kids on the spectrum often understand and use words concretely and literally. For example, a teacher discussed possible consequences for misbehavior with her autistic student. This child heard that if he did not complete his classwork when asked, he would receive detention. 
He became very upset over this perceived injustice. He didn’t understand that the teacher had meant that when she saw a “pattern” of incomplete work, she would provide the consequence of a detention.

With such a concrete way of understanding others, children with ASD can easily misinterpret the intent of others and respond in an unexpected and possibly inappropriate way. 
Thus, when speaking to these young people, it’s important for parents and teachers to be very specific (e.g., instead of saying, “You need to get ready for lunch” …be more detailed by saying, “Hand in your assignment, put your pencil and notebook away, and get in line with the other students”).

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