Teaching Lexical Humor to Children with Autism

Cindy Gill, Ginger White, Tamby Allman

Abstract


Comprehension and production of linguistic humor is an important social, linguistic, and cognitive skill for all children, but it often fails to develop in children with autism. One form of linguistic humor that is based on multiple meaning words and can take the form of riddles or jokes has been identified as “lexical humor.” This study investigated the effects of the Lexical Humor Treatment Program (Gill, White, & Reyes, 2010) on six high-functioning children with autism. All of the children increased their understanding of multiple-meaning words and their ability to answer related riddles on which they had been trained. More importantly, the children were able to transfer their skill in practiced riddles to novel riddles on which they had not been trained. These results suggest that the teaching of humor in the form of lexical riddles might be an important treatment consideration for children with autism.
Key words: Lexical Humor; Linguistic Humor; Autism; Asperger Syndrome; Riddles; Multiple Meaning Words; Humor Instruction

Keywords


Lexical Humor; Linguistic Humor; Autism; Asperger Syndrome; Riddles; Multiple Meaning Words; Humor Instruction

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968%2Fj.sll.1923156320110203.001

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