Article/Report  |   October 2007
“Listen My Children and You Shall Hear”: Auditory Preferences in Toddlers With Autism Spectrum Disorders
 
Author Notes
  • Contact author: Rhea Paul, Yale University School of Medicine, Child Study Center, 40 Temple Street, #6B, New Haven, CT 06510. E-mail: rhea.paul@yale.edu.
Article Information
Development / Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Normal Language Processing / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language
Article/Report   |   October 2007
“Listen My Children and You Shall Hear”: Auditory Preferences in Toddlers With Autism Spectrum Disorders
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2007, Vol. 50, 1350-1364. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/094)
History: Received October 14, 2004 , Revised June 23, 2006 , Accepted February 7, 2007
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2007, Vol. 50, 1350-1364. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/094)
History: Received October 14, 2004; Revised June 23, 2006; Accepted February 7, 2007
Web of Science® Times Cited: 31

Purpose: This study tests the hypothesis that toddlers with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) will show differences from contrast groups in preferences for attending to speech.

Method: This study examined auditory preferences in toddlers with ASD and matched groups of (a) typical age-mates, (b) age-mates with nonautistic developmental disabilities, and (c) younger children matched for language age. The experimental procedure measured time spent oriented to auditory stimuli that were created to exemplify language patterns that had been studied in typically developing infants.

Results: Findings suggest that toddlers with ASD show a reduced preference for child-directed speech, compared with typical age-mates, but few differences from children with nonautistic developmental disorders. Correlational analysis revealed that time spent listening to child-directed speech by children with ASD was related to their concurrent receptive language ability as well as to receptive language abilities 1 year later. This relationship did not hold for the other groups.

Conclusion: The present study supports the hypothesis that children with ASD perform differently from typical peers in auditory preference paradigms and that performance in these tasks is related to concurrent and later language development.

Acknowledgments
Preparation of this article was supported by funding from the National Alliance for Autism Research, awarded to Rhea Paul; Grant P01-03008 from the National Institute of Mental Health Research; Studies to Advance Autism Research and Treatment (STAART) Center Grant U54 MH66494, funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; and by a mid-career development award (K24 HD045576) given to the first author from NIDCD.
Our deep appreciation goes to the late Peter Jusczyk and Ann Marie Jusczyk and to the Jusczyks' laboratory at Johns Hopkins University for making it possible to replicate their hardware and software in our laboratory to carry out these studies. We also express thanks to Haskins Laboratories—including Brook Swainson and Jeffrey Weihing for assisting with the creation of stimuli and the construction of the test booth—for leading us to Sophie Scott’s work, as well as with the overall conceptual development of this project. Sophie Scott and her laboratory were extremely generous in sharing their speech rotation software with us so that we could produce the rotated speech stimuli. The research assistants who enthusiastically lent their time and energy toward making this study possible include Kate Elliot, Carolyn Gosse, Lauren Herzog, Stephanie Miles, Kristy Natale, and Elizabeth Schoen. We also thank the families of the children who participated in this research.
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