In research, it has been difficult to characterize the prosodic production differences that have been observed clinically in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Moreover, the nature of these differences has been particularly hard to identify. This study examined one possible contributor to these perceived differences: motor planning. We examined the ability of children and adolescents with ASD to imitate prosodic patterns in comparison to a group with learning disabilities (LD) and a typically developing (TD) comparison group. Overall, we found that both the ASD and LD groups were significantly worse at perceiving and imitating prosodic patterns than the TD comparison group. Similar to previous studies using non-imitative speech, participants with ASD showed a significantly longer duration of utterances than the two comparison groups when attempting to imitate an intonation pattern. The implications of differences in duration of utterances are discussed. This study also highlights the importance of using clinical comparison groups in studies of language performance in individuals with ASD.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/rhea_paul/16/