Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 998–1012

Altered Gesture and Speech Production in ASD Detract from In-Person Communicative Quality

  • Laura M. Morett
  • Kirsten O’Hearn
  • Beatriz Luna
  • Avniel Singh Ghuman
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10803-015-2645-9

Cite this article as:
Morett, L.M., O’Hearn, K., Luna, B. et al. J Autism Dev Disord (2016) 46: 998. doi:10.1007/s10803-015-2645-9


This study disentangled the influences of language and social processing on communication in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by examining whether gesture and speech production differs as a function of social context. The results indicate that, unlike other adolescents, adolescents with ASD did not increase their coherency and engagement in the presence of a visible listener, and that greater coherency and engagement were related to lesser social and communicative impairments. Additionally, the results indicated that adolescents with ASD produced sparser speech and fewer gestures conveying supplementary information, and that both of these effects increased in the presence of a visible listener. Together, these findings suggest that interpersonal communication deficits in ASD are driven more strongly by social processing than language processing.


Gesture Language Social communication Dialogue Adolescence 

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
National Institute of Mental Health (US)
  • MH016804-31
  • NIMH K01MH081191
Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (US)
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (US)
  • HD055748

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Center for the Neural Basis of CognitionPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.Department of NeurosurgeryUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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