University of Hertfordshire

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An exploration of sarcasm detection in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-34
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Communication Disorders
Early online date31 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


The present research explored the ability of children with ADHD to distinguish between sarcasm and sincerity. Twenty-two children with a clinical diagnosis of ADHD were compared with 22 age and verbal IQ matched typically developing children using the Social Inference–Minimal Test from The Awareness of Social Inference Test (TASIT, McDonald, Flanagan, & Rollins, 2002). This test assesses an individual’s ability to interpret naturalistic social interactions containing sincerity, simple sarcasm and paradoxical sarcasm. Children with ADHD demonstrated specific deficits in comprehending paradoxical sarcasm and they performed significantly less accurately than the typically developing children. While there were no significant differences between the children with ADHD and the typically developing children in their ability to comprehend sarcasm based on the speaker’s intentions and beliefs, the children with ADHD were found to be significantly less accurate when basing their decision on the feelings of the speaker, but also on what the speaker had said. Results are discussed in light of difficulties in their understanding of complex cues of social interactions, and non-literal language being symptomatic of children with a clinical diagnosis of ADHD. The importance of pragmatic language skills in their ability to detect social and emotional information is highlighted.


This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of the following article: Amanda K. Ludlow, Eleanor Chadwick, Alice Morey, Rebecca Edwards, and Roberto Gutierrez, ‘An exploration of sarcasm detection in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder’, Journal of Communication Disorders, Vol. 70: 25-34, November 2017. Under embargo. Embargo end date: 31 October 2019. The Version of Record is available at doi:

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