The self-presentation skills of children and adolescents with high-functioning autistic spectrum disorder (HFASD) and typically developing (TD) controls were compared, in response to both hypothetical and real life situations. In both situations, 26 HFASD and 26 TD participants were prompted to describe themselves twice, first in a baseline condition, and later in a goal-directed condition where specific information was given about the preferences and demands of the audience. Confirming and extending previous research, both TD and HFASD participants exhibited a tendency to be more positive when describing themselves in a goal-directed condition. However, HFASD participants were less strategic than TD participants in responding to the information they were given about the audience preferences and demands. Possible explanations and implications of the results are discussed. © 2010 The Author(s).