It is unclear whether children with autism spectrum disorders have atypical semantic fluency and lower memory for the semantics of words. Therefore, we examined semantic typicality, fluency and recall for the categories of fruits and animals in 60 children with autism aged 7–15 years (boys: 48/girls: 12) compared to 60 typically developing controls. Relative to controls, the autism group had reduced animal fluency, fruit typicality and recall for fruits. Notably, these measures were associated with more autistic-like symptoms and/or lower adaptive functioning across the autism and control groups. In conclusion, atypical semantics of fruits in the autism group may reflect development of idiosyncratic semantic networks while their lower semantic fluency and recall suggest impaired executive language functions.