The Psychologist as an Interlocutor in Autism Spectrum Disorder Assessment: Insights From a Study of Spontaneous Prosody Purpose The purpose of this study was to examine relationships between prosodic speech cues and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) severity, hypothesizing a mutually interactive relationship between the speech characteristics of the psychologist and the child. The authors objectively quantified acoustic-prosodic cues of the psychologist and of the child with ASD ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 2014
The Psychologist as an Interlocutor in Autism Spectrum Disorder Assessment: Insights From a Study of Spontaneous Prosody
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Daniel Bone
    Signal Analysis & Interpretation Laboratory (SAIL), University of Southern California, Los Angeles
  • Chi-Chun Lee
    Signal Analysis & Interpretation Laboratory (SAIL), University of Southern California, Los Angeles
  • Matthew P. Black
    Signal Analysis & Interpretation Laboratory (SAIL), University of Southern California, Los Angeles
  • Marian E. Williams
    University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
  • Sungbok Lee
    Signal Analysis & Interpretation Laboratory (SAIL), University of Southern California, Los Angeles
  • Pat Levitt
    Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California
    Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
  • Shrikanth Narayanan
    Signal Analysis & Interpretation Laboratory (SAIL), University of Southern California, Los Angeles
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Daniel Bone: dbone@usc.edu
  • Editor: Jody Kreiman
    Editor: Jody Kreiman×
  • Associate Editor: Megha Sundara
    Associate Editor: Megha Sundara×
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 2014
The Psychologist as an Interlocutor in Autism Spectrum Disorder Assessment: Insights From a Study of Spontaneous Prosody
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2014, Vol. 57, 1162-1177. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-S-13-0062
History: Received March 14, 2013 , Revised August 25, 2013 , Accepted September 5, 2013
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2014, Vol. 57, 1162-1177. doi:10.1044/2014_JSLHR-S-13-0062
History: Received March 14, 2013; Revised August 25, 2013; Accepted September 5, 2013
Web of Science® Times Cited: 8

Purpose The purpose of this study was to examine relationships between prosodic speech cues and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) severity, hypothesizing a mutually interactive relationship between the speech characteristics of the psychologist and the child. The authors objectively quantified acoustic-prosodic cues of the psychologist and of the child with ASD during spontaneous interaction, establishing a methodology for future large-sample analysis.

Method Speech acoustic-prosodic features were semiautomatically derived from segments of semistructured interviews (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, ADOS; Lord, Rutter, DiLavore, & Risi, 1999; Lord et al., 2012) with 28 children who had previously been diagnosed with ASD. Prosody was quantified in terms of intonation, volume, rate, and voice quality. Research hypotheses were tested via correlation as well as hierarchical and predictive regression between ADOS severity and prosodic cues.

Results Automatically extracted speech features demonstrated prosodic characteristics of dyadic interactions. As rated ASD severity increased, both the psychologist and the child demonstrated effects for turn-end pitch slope, and both spoke with atypical voice quality. The psychologist's acoustic cues predicted the child's symptom severity better than did the child's acoustic cues.

Conclusion The psychologist, acting as evaluator and interlocutor, was shown to adjust his or her behavior in predictable ways based on the child's social-communicative impairments. The results support future study of speech prosody of both interaction partners during spontaneous conversation, while using automatic computational methods that allow for scalable analysis on much larger corpora.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by funds from the National Science Foundation and by National Institutes of Health Grant PL-R21 HD065289. We are grateful to Sylvia Acosta and Irina Zamora for their administration of the ADOS and to Marcia Higareda for her recruiting efforts.
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