Disordered expressive prosody is a widely reported characteristic of individuals with autism. Despite this, it has received little attention in the literature and the few studies that have addressed it have not described its relationship to other aspects of communication.
To determine the nature and relationship of expressive and receptive language, phonology, pragmatics, and non-verbal ability in school-aged children with high-functioning autism and to determine how prosody relates to these abilities and which aspects of prosody are most affected.
A total of 31 children with high-functioning autism and 72 typically developing children matched for verbal mental age completed a battery of speech, language, and non-verbal assessments and a procedure for assessing receptive and expressive prosody.
Language skills varied, but the majority of children with high-functioning autism had deficits in at least one aspect of language with expressive language most severely impaired. All of the children with high-functioning autism had difficulty with at least one aspect of prosody and prosodic ability correlated highly with expressive and receptive language. The children with high-functioning autism showed significantly poorer prosodic skills than the control group, even after adjusting for verbal mental age.
Investigating prosody and its relationship to language in autism is clinically important because expressive prosodic disorders add an additional social and communication barrier for these children and problems are often life-long even when other areas of language improve. Furthermore, a receptive prosodic impairment may have implications not only for understanding the many functions of prosody but also for general language comprehension.
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"Most of a sample of autistic teenagers did not differ from a sample of typically developing teenagers in their ability to read, but a third of the sample did (Åsberg & Dahlgren Sandberg 2012). Half of a sample of autistic children and teenagers produced scores on the British Picture Vocabulary Scale in the average range, but a quarter of the sample performed one to two standard deviations below average, and another quarter of the sample performed more than two standard deviations above average (McCann et al., 2005). Autistic language development often demonstrates extreme variability. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abnormal language development used to define autism, but no longer does. Indeed, language development no longer even figures into contemporary diagnostic criteria, although early delays in language often lead to parents' concerns. In this chapter, we review recent empirical research on language development in autism. To paint a contemporary picture, we restrict our review to studies published in the 21 st century. We conclude that language development in autism is often delayed, but not deviant; that a delay in language development is not unique to autism; and that language development in autism is remarkably heterogeneous.
"However, communication deficits common to individuals with ASD include expressive and receptive language deficits, poor nonverbal (facial & gestural ) communication skills, and pragmatic deficits that manifest as sharing too much, not enough, or irrelevant information with communication partners. While these deficits represent an impediment to social interaction, such interactions are further reduced by deficits in understanding or responding to another's emotions in an appropriate way, and lack of affective prosody (prosodic features that convey emotions) (Baron-Cohen, Golan, Wheelwright, Granader, and Hill, 2010; Kern et al., 2013; McCann et al., 2007). Individuals with ASD may have difficulty assessing, processing, and producing emotional affect conveyed via voice, eyes, and accompanying facial expressions (Bal et al., 2010; Bauminger & Kasari 2000; Rutherford & McIntosh, 2007; Volker, Lopata, Smith & Thomeer, 2009). "
"" ), and affective intonation (e.g., motherese intonation, emotional prosody). Using the Profiling Elements of Prosodic Systems in Children (PEPS-C; Peppé and McCann 2003) to assess prosodic performance of individuals with ASD, some studies reported normal performance of individuals with ASD on certain tasks (e.g., turn-end, chunking, and focus tasks, Järvinen-Pasley et al. 2008a; McCann et al. 2007; Paul et al. 2005; Peppé et al. 2007), whereas other studies showed prosodic deficits in these individuals (Diehl and Paul 2013; Hesling et al. 2010). In particular, unlike TD controls, individuals with ASD demonstrate a clear bias towards judging the same intonation pairs as different and identifying question utterances as declarative (Järvinen-Pasley et al. 2008a; Peppé et al. 2007). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tone language experience benefits pitch processing in music and speech for typically developing individuals. No known studies have examined pitch processing in individuals with autism who speak a tone language. This study investigated discrimination and identification of melodic contour and speech intonation in a group of Mandarin-speaking individuals with high-functioning autism. Individuals with autism showed superior melodic contour identification but comparable contour discrimination relative to controls. In contrast, these individuals performed worse than controls on both discrimination and identification of speech intonation. These findings provide the first evidence for differential pitch processing in music and speech in tone language speakers with autism, suggesting that tone language experience may not compensate for speech intonation perception deficits in individuals with autism.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders