Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 42, Issue 8, pp 1616–1629 | Cite as

Behavioral and Physiological Responses to Child-Directed Speech of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders or Typical Development

  • Linda R. Watson
  • Jane E. Roberts
  • Grace T. Baranek
  • Kerry C. Mandulak
  • Jennifer C. Dalton
Original paper


Young boys with autism were compared to typically developing boys on responses to nonsocial and child-directed speech (CDS) stimuli. Behavioral (looking) and physiological (heart rate and respiratory sinus arrhythmia) measures were collected. Boys with autism looked equally as much as chronological age-matched peers at nonsocial stimuli, but less at CDS stimuli. Boys with autism and language age-matched peers differed in patterns of looking at live versus videotaped CDS stimuli. Boys with autism demonstrated faster heart rates than chronological age-matched peers, but did not differ significantly on respiratory sinus arrhythmia. Reduced attention during CDS may restrict language-learning opportunities for children with autism. The heart rate findings suggest that young children with autism have a nonspecific elevated arousal level.


Autism Language Child-directed speech Attention Respiratory sinus arrhythmia Heart rate 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda R. Watson
    • 1
  • Jane E. Roberts
    • 2
    • 3
  • Grace T. Baranek
    • 4
  • Kerry C. Mandulak
    • 1
    • 5
  • Jennifer C. Dalton
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, CB# 7190The University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  2. 2.Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, CB #8180The University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  3. 3.University of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  4. 4.Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, CB #7120The University of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  5. 5.Portland State UniversityPortlandUSA
  6. 6.Appalachian State UniversityBooneUSA

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