Emotional Facial and Vocal Expressions During Story Retelling by Children and Adolescents With High-Functioning Autism PurposePeople with high-functioning autism (HFA) have qualitative differences in facial expression and prosody production, which are rarely systematically quantified. The authors' goals were to qualitatively and quantitatively analyze prosody and facial expression productions in children and adolescents with HFA.MethodParticipants were 22 male children and adolescents with HFA and 18 typically ... Article
Article  |   June 01, 2013
Emotional Facial and Vocal Expressions During Story Retelling by Children and Adolescents With High-Functioning Autism
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ruth B. Grossman
    Emerson College, Boston, MA
  • Lisa R. Edelson
    Boston University
  • Helen Tager-Flusberg
    Boston University
  • Correspondence to Ruth B. Grossman: ruth_grossman@emerson.edu
  • Editor: Janna Oetting
    Editor: Janna Oetting×
  • Associate Editor: Nina Capone-Singleton
    Associate Editor: Nina Capone-Singleton×
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language
Article   |   June 01, 2013
Emotional Facial and Vocal Expressions During Story Retelling by Children and Adolescents With High-Functioning Autism
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2013, Vol. 56, 1035-1044. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/12-0067)
History: Received February 27, 2012 , Revised July 18, 2012 , Accepted October 29, 2012
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2013, Vol. 56, 1035-1044. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/12-0067)
History: Received February 27, 2012; Revised July 18, 2012; Accepted October 29, 2012
Web of Science® Times Cited: 9

PurposePeople with high-functioning autism (HFA) have qualitative differences in facial expression and prosody production, which are rarely systematically quantified. The authors' goals were to qualitatively and quantitatively analyze prosody and facial expression productions in children and adolescents with HFA.

MethodParticipants were 22 male children and adolescents with HFA and 18 typically developing (TD) controls (17 males, 1 female). The authors used a story retelling task to elicit emotionally laden narratives, which were analyzed through the use of acoustic measures and perceptual codes. Naïve listeners coded all productions for emotion type, degree of expressiveness, and awkwardness.

ResultsThe group with HFA was not significantly different in accuracy or expressiveness of facial productions, but was significantly more awkward than the TD group. Participants with HFA were significantly more expressive in their vocal productions, with a trend for greater awkwardness. Severity of social communication impairment, as captured by the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS; Lord, Rutter, DiLavore, & Risi, 1999), was correlated with greater vocal and facial awkwardness.

ConclusionsFacial and vocal expressions of participants with HFA were as recognizable as those of their TD peers but were qualitatively different, particularly when listeners coded samples with intact dynamic properties. These preliminary data show qualitative differences in nonverbal communication that may have significant negative impact on the social communication success of children and adolescents with HFA.

Acknowledgments
Funding was provided by Grant U19 DC03610 (H. Tager-Flusberg, principal investigator [P.I.]) from the National Alliance for Autism Research, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), which is part of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)/NIDCD Collaborative Programs of Excellence in Autism. Funding was also provided by Grant M01-RR00533 from the General Clinical Research Center program of the National Center for Research Resources, National Institutes of Health (NIH). The first author is currently supported by NIDCD Grant R21 DC010867-01 (R. Grossman, P.I.) and by NIH Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center P30 Grant HDP30HD004147.
We thank Yavni Bar-Yam, Rhyannon Bemis, Steven Borawski, Chris Connolly, Danielle Delosh, Alex B. Fine, Meaghan Kennedy, and Loren Rubinstein 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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