University of Oulu

Ilaria Gabbatore, Claudio Longobardi & Francesca M. Bosco (2022) Improvement of Communicative-pragmatic Ability in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Adapted Version of the Cognitive Pragmatic Treatment, Language Learning and Development, 18:1, 62-80, DOI: 10.1080/15475441.2021.1924177

Improvement of communicative-pragmatic ability in adolescents with autism spectrum disorder : the adapted version of the cognitive pragmatic treatment

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Author: Gabbatore, Ilaria1,2; Longobardi, Claudio1; Bosco, Francesca M.1,1
Organizations: 1GIPSI - research Group on Inferential Processes in Social Interaction, Department of Psychology, University of Turin, Turin, Italy
2Child Language Research Center, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Informa, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-02-02


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex pathology that includes impaired social interaction abilities. Insufficient attention has been paid to programs specifically devoted to improving communicative-pragmatic skills. Moreover, the majority of studies have focused on children, while programs specifically developed for the adolescents are lacking.

The present study aims to test the feasibility and acceptability of the adapted version of the Cognitive Pragmatic Treatment for adolescents (A-CPT), a 15-session group training, as well as its ability to improve the communicative-pragmatic performance of adolescents with ASD. Twenty-one verbally fluent adolescents with ASD took part in the training; they were assessed in three phases, i.e., before, after and at three-month follow-up, using the equivalent forms of the Assessment Battery for Communication (ABaCo), a tool for testing a wide range of pragmatic phenomena, such as direct and indirect speech acts, irony, deceit and violation of Grice’s maxims, expressed through linguistic, non-verbal, i.e., gestures, or paralinguistic expressive means. Furthermore, Theory of Mind (ToM) tasks and tests investigating the main cognitive domains, for example, Executive Functions (planning, shifting, working memory) and long-term memory, were administered. The results showed an improvement in participants’ performance in all the four scales of the ABaCo, i.e., linguistic, extralinguistic, paralinguistic and context scale; this improvement was maintained at follow-up assessment three months after the end of the program. No improvement was observed in the cognitive and ToM domains investigated, with the only exception of expressive vocabulary task. Despite the lack of a control group, the high degree of feasibility of the CPT, highlight the importance of more work needed in this research line.

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Series: Language learning and development
ISSN: 1547-5441
ISSN-E: 1547-3341
ISSN-L: 1547-5441
Volume: 18
Issue: 1
Pages: 62 - 80
DOI: 10.1080/15475441.2021.1924177
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 6121 Languages
Funding: This work was supported by Fondazione CRT - Cassa di Risparmio di Torino. Research project ‘Migliorare la comunicazione e la qualità della vita percepita: Training dell’abilità pragmatica per adolescenti con disturbo dello spettro autistico’.
Copyright information: © 2021 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Language Learning and Development on 20 Jun 2021, available at: