Purpose: This article reports a study in which referential communication in 11 individuals with Asperger syndrome (AS) and 11 controls was compared between text chat and telephone, using a route-solving task.
Method: Participants deduced routes by asking closed questions, and the dependent variables were (a) accuracy in working out the route, (b) number of questions posed (turns taken), and (c) time taken to complete the task.
Results: Generally, individuals with AS were equally competent in solving the task in both media but less efficient than the typically developing comparison group. Individuals with AS who had higher measured executive ability adopted a similar approach to the comparison group, asking about landmarks on the map to deduce the route taken. In contrast, AS participants with lower executive ability used an inefficient left/right questioning strategy, which occupied more time, required more conversational turns, and was associated with a higher rate of error.
Conclusion: Individuals with AS, who also have problems of executive functioning, may have difficulty communicating with others to use a route-solving task.