The Double Interview Task: Assessing the Social Communication of Children with Asperger Syndrome

The Double Interview Task

The Double Interview Task is a promising tool developed by Winner (2002) that may be used to assess social communication in children with social pragmatic deficits within a natural discourse setting. The Double Interview Task has the functional orientation of the Clinical Discourse Analysis with a focus on the areas of social communication usually deficient in individuals with Asperger Syndrome. Winner describes the tool as an informal assessment procedure that is said to increase insight into students with social communication difficulties main problem: "their inability to assess how to talk to the other person so that the other person wants to maintain the relationship." The Double Interview Task has the potential to be used to create appropriate intervention for a child based on their individual social communication needs, not solely based on the diagnostic label. Winner (2002), reports anecdotally, that there appears to be a significant difference in the performance of students with social pragmatic deficits on the Double Interview Task, and their typically developing peers.

The Double Interview Task begins with the investigator asking the student questions about his/her hobbies. After the clinician completes the interview, the student is asked to interview the clinician. Prior to asking the student to begin the interview, he/she is asked to explain three personal pictures on the table. Errors in identifying the people in the pictures and describing the pictures are placed into four general categories:

  1. Limited ability to shift perspective
  2. Difficulty reading others' faces
  3. Limited accounting for contextual cues
  4. Limited ability to make inferences

The student is then given the opportunity to interview the clinician.

"Learning to observe students with social cognitive deficits and qualitatively describing their place on the perspective taking spectrum will be an important step toward helping educators and parents better understand the unique needs of their students" (Winner, 2002, p.7).

Currently there are "few sources of data on the interactive conversational behaviors of typically developing adolescents that can be used as guidelines when working with clinical populations" (Turkstra, Ciccia, & Seaton, 2003). If the goal of all treatment programs is to help a student maintain social relationships equal to his or her peers, (Winner, 2003), it is necessary to obtain normative data on how the performance of typical peers compares to students with social pragmatic deficits on the Double Interview Task.