Advertisement

Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Atypical Prosody in Asperger Syndrome: Perceptual and Acoustic Measurements

Abstract

It is known that individuals with Asperger syndrome (AS) may show no problems with regard to what is said (e.g., lexical content) but tend to have difficulties in how utterances are produced, i.e., they may show prosodic impairments. In the present study, we focus on the use of prosodic features to express grammatical meaning. Specifically, we explored the sentence type difference between statements and questions that is conveyed by intonation, using perceptual and acoustic measurements. Children aged 8 and 9 years with AS (n = 12) were matched according to age and nonverbal intelligence with typically developing peers (n = 17). Although children with AS could produce categorically accurate prosodic patterns, their prosodic contours were perceived as odd by adult listeners, and acoustic measurements showed alterations in duration and pitch. Additionally, children with AS had greater variability in fundamental frequency contours compared to typically developing peers.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

References

  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-IV-TR) (4th ed.). Washington, DC: APA. doi:10.1176/appi.books.9780890423349.

  2. Baltaxe, C. (1984). Use of contrastive stress in normal, aphasic and autistic children. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 27, 97–105.

  3. Baltaxe, C., & Simmons, J. Q. (1985). Prosodic development in normal and autistic children. In E. Schopler & G. B. Mesibov (Eds.), Communication problems in autism (pp. 95–125). New York: Plenum Press. doi:10.1007/978-1-4757-4806-2_7.

  4. Baron-Cohen, S., & Staunton, R. (1994). Do children with autism acquire the phonology of their peers? An examination of group identification through the window of bilingualism. First Language, 14, 241–248. doi:10.1177/014272379401404216.

  5. Bellon-Harn, M. L., Harn, W. E., & Meline, T. (2007, November). Perceptual and acoustic correlates of duration in Asperger syndrome. Poster presented at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Boston, MA.

  6. Boersma, P., & Weenink, D. (2011). Praat: Doing phonetics by computer [Computer program]. Version 5.3. Retrieved Oct 15, 2011 from http://www.praat.org/.

  7. Bonneh, Y. S., Levanon, Y., Dean-Pardo, O., Lossos, L., & Adini, Y. (2011). Abnormal speech spectrum and increased pitch variability in young autistic children. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 4, 237. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2010.00237.

  8. Catterall, C., Howard, S., Stojanovik, V., Szczerbinski, M., & Wells, B. (2006). Investigating prosodic ability in Williams syndrome. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 20(7–8), 531–538. doi:10.1080/02699200500266380.

  9. Christophe, A., Guasti, T., Nespor, M., Dupoux, E., & Ooyen, B. V. (1997). Reflections on phonological bootstrapping: Its role for lexical and syntactic acquisition. Language and Cognitive Processes, 12(5/6), 585–612.

  10. Christophe, A., Mehler, J., & Sebastian-Galles, N. (2001). Perception of prosodic boundary correlates by newborn infants. Infancy, 2, 385–394. doi:10.1207/S15327078IN0203_6.

  11. Crystal, D. (1979). Prosodic development. In P. Fletcher & M. Garman (Eds.), Language acquisition (pp. 33–48). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511620683.011.

  12. Cutler, A., & Swinney, D. A. (1987). Prosody and the development of comprehension. Journal of Child Language, 14(1), 145–167. doi:10.1017/S0305000900012782.

  13. Demouy, J., Plaza, M., Xavier, J., Ringeval, F., Chetouani, M., Périsse, D., et al. (2011). Differential language markers of pathology in autism, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified and specific language impairment. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 5(4), 1402–1412. doi:10.1016/j.rasd.2011.01.026.

  14. DePape, A. M. R., Chen, A., Hall, G. B. C., & Trainor, L. J. (2012). Use of prosody and information structure in high functioning adults with autism in relation to language ability. Frontiers in Psychology, 3, 72. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00072.

  15. Diehl, J. J., & Paul, R. (2013). Acoustic and perceptual measurements of prosody production on the PEPS-C by children with autism. Applied Psycholinguistics, 34, 135–161. doi:10.1017/S0142716411000646.

  16. Diehl, J. J., Watson, D., Bennetto, L., McDonough, J., & Gunlogson, C. (2009). An acoustic analysis of prosody in high-functioning autism. Applied Psycholinguistics, 30, 385–404. doi:10.1017/S0142716409090201.

  17. Dryer, M. S. (2011). Polar questions. In M. S. Dryer & M. Haspelmath (Eds.), The world atlas of language structures online (chapter 116). Munich: Max Planck Digital Library. Retrieved from http://wals.info/chapter/116.

  18. Falé, I., & Faria, I. H. (2005). Intonational contrasts in EP: A categorical perception approach. In Proceedings of the 9th European conference on speech communication and technology (pp. 1705–1708). Lisboa.

  19. Filipe, M. G., & Vicente, S. G. (2011). Teste de competências prosódicas para falantes do Português Europeu [A test of prosodic abilities for European Portuguese speakers]. In A. S. Ferreira, A. Verhaeghe, D. R. Silva, L. S. Almeida, R. Lima & S. Fraga (Eds.), Proceedings of the VIII Iberoamerican congress of psychological assessment (pp. 447–463). Lisboa: Sociedade Portuguesa de Psicologia. Retrieved from http://sigarra.up.pt/fpceup/publs_pesquisa.formview?p_id=75969.

  20. Fine, J., Bartolucci, G., Ginsberg, G., & Szatmari, P. (1991). The use of intonation to communicate in pervasive developmental disorders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 32, 771–782. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.1991.tb01901.x.

  21. Fombonne, E. (2009). Epidemiology of pervasive developmental disorders. Pediatric Research, 65, 591–598. doi:10.1203/PDR.0b013e31819e7203.

  22. Frota, S. (2002). Nuclear falls and rises in European Portuguese: A phonological analysis of declarative and question intonation. Probus, 14, 113–146. doi:10.1515/prbs.2002.001.

  23. Frota, S., Butler, J., & Vigário, M. (2013). Infants’ perception of intonation: Is it a statement or a question? Infancy,. doi:10.1111/infa.12037.

  24. Green, H., & Tobin, Y. (2009). Prosodic analysis is difficult… but worth it: A study in high functioning autism. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 11(4), 308–315. doi:10.1080/17549500903003060.

  25. Grossman, R. B., Bemis, R. H., Plesa-Skwerer, D., & Tager-Flusberg, H. (2010). Lexical and affective prosody in children with high-functioning autism. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 53(3), 778–793. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/08-0127.

  26. Grossman, R. B., Edelson, L. R., & Tager-Flusberg, H. (2013). Emotional facial and vocal expressions during story retelling by children and adolescents with high-functioning autism. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 56(3), 1035–1044. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/12-0067.

  27. Gussenhoven, C. (2004). The phonology of tone and intonation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511616983.

  28. Höhle, B. (2009). Bootstrapping mechanisms in first language acquisition. Linguistics, 47(2), 359–382. doi:10.1515/LING.2009.013.

  29. Järvinen-Pasley, A., Peppé, S., King-Smith, G., & Heaton, P. (2008). The relationship between form and function level receptive prosodic abilities in autism. Journal of Autism and Development Disorders, 38, 1328–1340. doi:10.1007/s10803-007-0520-z.

  30. Kanner, L. (1943). Autistic disturbances of affective contact. Nervous Child, 2, 217–250.

  31. Klin, A., Volkmar, F. R., & Sparrow, S. (2000). Asperger syndrome. New York: The Guilford Press.

  32. Koegel, L. K., Koegal, R. L., Green-Hopkins, I., & Barnes, C. C. (2010). Brief report: Question-asking and collateral language acquisition in children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40, 509–515. doi:10.1007/s10803-009-0896-z.

  33. Lord, C., Rutter, M. L., Goode, S., Heemsbergen, J., Jordan, H., Mawhood, L., et al. (1989). Autism diagnostic observation schedule: A standardized observation of communicative and social behavior. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 19(2), 185–212. doi:10.1007/BF02211841.

  34. Lord, C., Rutter, M. L., & Le Couteur, A. (1994). The autism diagnostic interview—revised: A revised version of a diagnostic interview for caregivers of individuals with possible pervasive developmental disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 24(5), 659–685. doi:10.1007/BF02172145.

  35. McCann, J., & Peppé, S. (2003). Prosody in autism spectrum disorders: A critical review. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 38(4), 325–350. doi:10.1080/1368282031000154204.

  36. McCann, J., Peppé, S., Gibbon, F. E., O’Hare, A., & Rutherford, M. (2007). Prosody and its relationship to language in school-aged children with high-functioning autism. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 42(6), 682–702. doi:10.1080/13682820601170102.

  37. Mehler, J., Jusczyk, P. W., Lamberts, G., Halstead, N., Bertoncini, J., & Amiel-Tison, C. (1988). A precursor of language acquisition in young infants. Cognition, 29, 143–178. doi:10.1016/0010-0277(88)90035-2.

  38. Morgan, J. L., & Demuth, K. (1996). Signal to syntax: An overview. In J. L. Morgan & K. Demuth (Eds.), Signal to syntax: Bootstrapping from speech to grammar in early acquisition (pp. 1–22). New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

  39. Nadig, A., & Shaw, H. (2012). Acoustic and perceptual measurement of expressive prosody in high-functioning autism: Increased pitch range and what it means to listeners. Journal of Autism and Development Disorders, 42, 499–511. doi:10.1007/s10803-011-1264-3.

  40. Oller, D. K., Niyogi, P., Gray, S., Richards, J. A., Gilkerson, J., Xu, D., et al. (2010). Automated vocal analysis of naturalistic recordings from children with autism, language delay, and typical development. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 107(30), 13354–13359. doi:10.1073/pnas.1003882107.

  41. Parker, A., & Rose, H. (1990). Deaf children’s phonological development. In A. G. Pamela (Ed.), Developmental speech disorders (pp. 83–108). New York: Wiley.

  42. Paul, R., Augustyn, A., Klin, A., & Volkmark, F. R. (2005). Perception and production of prosody by speakers with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Development Disorders, 35(2), 205–220. doi:10.1007/s10803-004-1999-1.

  43. Paul, R., Orlovski, S. M., Marcinko, H. C., & Volkmar, F. R. (2009). Conversational behaviors in youth with high-functioning ASD and Asperger syndrome. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39(1), 115–125. doi:10.1007/s10803-008-0607-1.

  44. Peppé, S. (1998). Investigating linguistic prosodic ability in adult speakers of English. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University College London, London.

  45. Peppé, S. (2007). Prosodic boundary in the speech of children with autism. In J. Trouvain & W. Barry (Eds.), Proceedings of the 16th international congress of phonetic sciences (p. 8). Saarbrücken: Universität des Saarlandes.

  46. Peppé, S., Cleland, J., Gibbon, F., O’Hare, A., & Mastínez-Castilla, P. (2011). Expressive prosody in children with autism spectrum conditions. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 24, 41–53. doi:10.1016/j.jneuroling.2010.07.005.

  47. Peppé, S., & McCann, J. (2003). Assessing intonation and prosody in children with atypical language development: The PEPS-C test and the revised version. Clinical Linguistics & Phonetics, 17(4/5), 345–354. doi:10.1080/0269920031000079994.

  48. Peppé, S., McCann, J., Gibbon, J., O’Hare, A., & Rutherford, M. (2007). Receptive and expressive prosodic ability in children with high-functioning autism. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 50, 1015–1028. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/071.

  49. Raven, J. C. (1995). Manual for the coloured progressive matrices (revised). Windsor: NFRE-Nelson.

  50. Schoen, E., Paul, R., & Chawarska, K. (2010). Vocal production in toddlers with autism spectrum disorders. In R. Paul & P. Flipsen (Eds.), Child speech sound disorders: In honor of Lawrence Shriberg (pp. 181–204). San Diego: Plural Publishers.

  51. Sharda, M., Subhadra, T. P., Sahay, S., Nagaraja, C., Singh, L., Mishra, R., et al. (2010). Sounds of melody—Pitch patterns of speech in autism. Neuroscience Letters, 478(1), 42–45. doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2010.04.066.

  52. Shriberg, L. D., Paul, R., McSweeny, J. L., Klin, A., Cohen, D. J., & Volkmar, F. R. (2001). Speech and prosody characteristics of adolescents and adults with high-functioning autism and Asperger syndrome. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 44(5), 1097–1115. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2001/087.

  53. Simões, M. (2000). Investigações no âmbito da Aferição Nacional do Teste das Matrizes Progressivas Coloridas de Raven. Lisboa: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian & Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia.

  54. Tager-Flusberg, H., Paul, R., & Lord, C. (2005). Communication in autism. In F. Volkmar, A. Klin, R. Paul & D. Cohen (Eds.), Handbook of autism and pervasive developmental disorders (3rd edn, pp. 335–364). New York: Wiley. doi:10.1002/9780470939345.

  55. Wagner, M., & Watson, D. G. (2010). Experimental and theoretical advances in prosody: A review. Language and Cognitive Processes, 25, 905–945. doi:10.1080/01690961003589492.

  56. Warren, S. F., Gilkerson, J., Richards, J. A., Oller, D. K., Xu, D., Yapanel, U., et al. (2010). What automated vocal analysis reveals about the vocal production and language learning environment of young children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40, 555–559. doi:10.1007/s10803-009-0902-5.

  57. Wells, B., & Peppé, S. (2003). Intonation abilities of children with speech and language impairment. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 46, 5–20. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2003/001.

  58. World Health Organization. (1992). International classification of diseases, 10th revision (ICD-10). Genova: WHO.

Download references

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (PEst-C/PSI/IU0050/2011, SFRH/BD/64166/2009, PEst-OE/LIN/UI0214/2013).

Author information

Correspondence to Marisa G. Filipe.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Filipe, M.G., Frota, S., Castro, S.L. et al. Atypical Prosody in Asperger Syndrome: Perceptual and Acoustic Measurements. J Autism Dev Disord 44, 1972–1981 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-014-2073-2

Download citation

Keywords

  • Asperger syndrome
  • Atypical prosody
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Intonation