Autism spectrum disorder and differences in written communication

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Merrill, Sydney
Holtgraves, Thomas
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Thesis (B.?)
Honors College
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Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects how individuals communicate, behave, and perceive the world. This disorder is known to negatively impact employment status. The current study aimed to determine differences in written communication produced by autistic and non-autistic participants. Participants were given prompts asking them to imagine they were applying for two different employment opportunities which differ in importance. The prompt asked participants why they should have been given the position. After submitting their responses, participants were asked to take the Autism-Spectrum Quotient Test and answer demographic questions. Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count software was utilized to detect linguistic differences in written communications. I hypothesized that when compared, responses from the same autistic participant would appear to have been written with the same level of perceived effort, despite the difference in the expertise required to be offered each job. Accordingly, responses from the same non-autistic participant will appear to have been written with different levels of effort. Specifically, non-autistic participants will put less effort into responding to the low-stakes prompt and more effort into the high-stakes prompt. Paired-samples t-tests were conducted to analyze the difference between Prompt 1 and Prompt 2 for each dependent variable separately for autistic and non-autistic participants. Results indicated support for both hypotheses. Specifically, autistic participants did not differ in word count and duration between prompts, and non-autistic participants had both higher word count and higher duration for the high-stakes prompt than the low-stakes prompt.