Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Deborah Fein; Inge-Marie Eigsti; Letitia Naigles

Field of Study



Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


Background: Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) have traditionally been considered a lifelong condition; however there appear to be a subset of people who make such significant improvements that they no longer meet diagnostic criteria for autism. The current study examines whether these “optimal outcome” (OO) children and adolescents continue to have subtle language and socio-cognitive deficits. Method: The narratives of 15 children and adolescents with a history of ASD who achieved optimal outcomes (OO), 15 high-functioning children and adolescents with a current ASD diagnosis (HFA), and 15 typically developing peers (TD) were evaluated. Results: OO children and adolescents have few residual language and socio-cognitive deficits as measured by narratives. The two areas where OO and HFA individuals performed significantly worse than controls were greater use of idiosyncratic language and greater dysfluency. Children and adolescents with HFA also used more ambiguous pronouns and were less likely to name the characters in their stories. Conclusions: There are a subset of OO children and adolescents, who, despite losing an autism diagnosis, continue to have higher-level language deficits. In addition, a subset of OO children and adolescents still produce idiosyncratic language, which may result in these individuals being perceived as idiosyncratic by their peers. Additionally, HFA children and adolescents have continued deficits in socio-cognitive functioning despite general IQ and language in the average range. Future research should explore how these factors impact the daily functioning of these individuals.

Major Advisor

Marianna Barton