Figurative meaning in multimodal work by an autistic artist: a cognitive semantic approach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research on figurative meaning in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) would benefit from considering a greater variety of data types and using more diverse methods. Previous studies have predominantly applied experimental methods to investigate processing of figurative language (mostly metaphor) and have for the most part concluded that individuals with ASD have deficits in figurative language comprehension. In this study, we focus on the creation and communication of figurative meaning in discursively situated and thematically organized verbal, gestural, and pictorial data published by an autistic artist in the form of videos and comics. Across three prominent experiential themes in the data, we isolate types of conceptualizations and generalize over mappings between target and source experiences. We find that the data are rich in figurative meaning expression (e.g., metaphor and metonymy) conveyed through language, co-speech gestures, and pictures in ways that are clearly embodied (experientially based) and that reflect affordances and constraints of these modes of communication. While our case study of meaning production does not contradict previous research on figurative meaning comprehension in populations, it does indicate benefits of taking a broader and multimodal approach to figurative meaning in research on ASD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-33
JournalLanguage and Cognition
Issue number1
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics

Free keywords

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • figurative meaning
  • gestures
  • comics
  • cognitive semantics
  • ASD


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