Lexical and Affective Prosody in Children With High-Functioning Autism PurposeTo investigate the perception and production of lexical stress and processing of affective prosody in adolescents with high-functioning autism (HFA). We hypothesized preserved processing of lexical and affective prosody but atypical lexical prosody production.MethodSixteen children with HFA and 15 typically developing (TD) peers participated in 3 experiments that examined the ... Article
Article  |   June 01, 2010
Lexical and Affective Prosody in Children With High-Functioning Autism
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ruth B. Grossman
    University of Massachusetts Medical School Shriver Center, Waltham
  • Rhyannon H. Bemis
    University of New Hampshire, Durham
  • Daniela Plesa Skwerer
    Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA
  • Helen Tager-Flusberg
    Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA
  • Contact author: Ruth B. Grossman, Emerson College, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, 120 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116-4624. E-mail: ruth_grossman@emerson.edu.
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language
Article   |   June 01, 2010
Lexical and Affective Prosody in Children With High-Functioning Autism
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2010, Vol. 53, 778-793. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/08-0127)
History: Received June 23, 2008 , Revised January 31, 2009 , Accepted September 22, 2009
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2010, Vol. 53, 778-793. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/08-0127)
History: Received June 23, 2008; Revised January 31, 2009; Accepted September 22, 2009
Web of Science® Times Cited: 52

PurposeTo investigate the perception and production of lexical stress and processing of affective prosody in adolescents with high-functioning autism (HFA). We hypothesized preserved processing of lexical and affective prosody but atypical lexical prosody production.

MethodSixteen children with HFA and 15 typically developing (TD) peers participated in 3 experiments that examined the following: (a) perception of affective prosody (Experiment 1), (b) lexical stress perception (Experiment 2), and (c) lexical stress production (Experiment 3). In Experiment 1, participants labeled sad, happy, and neutral spoken sentences that were low-pass filtered, to eliminate verbal content. In Experiment 2, participants disambiguated word meanings based on lexical stress (HOTdog vs. hot DOG). In Experiment 3, participants produced these words in a sentence completion task. Productions were analyzed with acoustic measures.

ResultsAccuracy levels showed no group differences. Participants with HFA could determine affect from filtered sentences and disambiguate words on the basis of lexical stress. They produced appropriately differentiated lexical stress patterns but demonstrated atypically long productions, indicating reduced ability in natural prosody production.

ConclusionsChildren with HFA were as capable as their TD peers in receptive tasks of lexical stress and affective prosody. Prosody productions were atypically long, despite accurate differentiation of lexical stress patterns. Future research should use larger samples and spontaneous versus elicited productions.

Acknowledgments
Funding was provided by the National Alliance for Autism Research; the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (Grant U19 DC03610), which is part of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Collaborative Programs of Excellence in Autism; and by Grant M01-RR00533 from the General Clinical Research Center program of the National Center for Research Resources, National Institutes of Health.
We thank Chris Connolly, Karen Condouris, Danielle Delosh, and especially Margaret Kjelgaard, for their assistance in stimulus creation, task administration, and data analysis. We also thank the children and families who gave their time to participate in this study.
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