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Title: Exploring the nature of the imagination deficit in children with high functioning autism : a new approach
Author: Dillon, Gayle Victoria
ISNI:       0000 0001 3424 5151
Awarding Body: Nottingham Trent University
Current Institution: Nottingham Trent University
Date of Award: 2008
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Autism is diagnosed according to three core impairments; communication, socialisation and imagination. Imagination deficits have typically received less attention in the literature than communication and socialisation, with difficulties often inferred from impoverished capacities for pretence. The aim of the thesis was to investigate the nature of the imagination deficit in children with high functioning autism utilising a new methodology; storytelling. Employing a storytelling methodology, which is argued to be a naturalistic and supportive research tool, the thesis explored the ability of children with autism to engage in imaginative storytelling as compared to a verbal and chronological age individually matched control group. A first study explored children's ability to engage in storytelling using single reality and fantasy based picture cards as a prompt. Studies 2a and 2b extended the first by asking the children to sequence, and then narrate stories comprising four picture cards. The tasks were manipulated to explore the effect of pictorial complexity for both reality and fantasy based stimuli. Studies 3a and 3b were developed to further investigate imagination and inference making in relation to reality and fantasy based stories. A final study investigated computer mediated imaginative storytelling. Results showed the autistic narratives shared many characteristics with the non-autistic narratives across quantitative measures such as story length. However, interesting distinctions were revealed in a reflective chapter, exposing the variability in response of the children with autism. Possible explanations and links to theory are made, as are the implications for our understanding of imagination in autism spectrum conditions. The thesis concludes that whilst some difficulties in imagination are evident in high functioning autism, this deficit is not absolute. Fantasy based storytelling is an activity children with high functioning autism can engage in, at least at a basic level.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available