Specificity of Phonological Representations for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
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This study investigated whether children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are sensitive to mispronunciations of familiar words and compared their sensitivity to children with typical-development. Sixty-four toddlers with ASD and 31 younger, typical controls participated in a looking-while-listening task that measured their accuracy in fixating the correct object when it was labelled with a correct pronunciation versus mispronunciation. A cognitive style that prioritizes processing local, rather than global features, as claimed by the weak central coherence theory, predicts that children with ASD should be more sensitive to mispronunciations than typical controls. The results, however, reveal no differences in the effect of mispronunciations on lexical processing between groups, even when matched for receptive language or non-verbal cognitive skills.
KeywordsAutism Lexical processing Weak central coherence Phonology Eye-tracking
We sincerely thank the families and children who made this research possible. We thank Jessica Umhoefer and Heidi Sindberg for their clinical expertise. We also thank Tristan Mahr, Elizabeth Premo, Courtney Venker, and all other members of the Little Listeners Project team for their input and assistance.
RP drafted the manuscript, performed the statistical analysis, and led in the analysis and interpretation of the data; JE conceived of the study, led in its design and coordination, participated in the interpretation of the data and helped to draft the manuscript; JS helped to conceive of the study and participated in the design and interpretation of the data; SEW helped to conceive of the study, participated in the design and interpretation of the data; and supervised the data collection. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
This study was funded by an NIDCD Grant (RO1 DC012513) and an NICHD Core Grant to the Waisman Center (U54 HD090256).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments and comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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