Prosody in autism spectrum disorders: a critical review

Joanne McCann, Sue Peppé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

262 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Many individuals with autism spectrum disorders present with unusual or odd-sounding prosody. Despite this widely noted observation, prosodic ability in autism spectrum disorders is often perceived as an under-researched area.

Aims: This review seeks to establish whether there is a prosodie disorder in autism, what generalizations can be made about its various manifestations and whether these manifestations vary according to the diagnosis. A literature review was carried out to establish what areas of prosody in autism spectrum disorders have been researched to date, what the findings have been and to determine what areas are yet to be researched.

Main contribution: It is shown that prosody in autism spectrum disorders is an under-researched area and that where research has been undertaken, findings often conflict. The findings of these conflicting studies are compared and recommendations are made for areas of future research.

Conclusions: Research in this area has covered mostly prosodic expression, although some more recent studies cover comprehension, processing and the relationship of receptive prosodic ability to theory of mind. Findings conflict and methodology varies greatly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-350
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of Language and Communication Disorders
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003


  • asperger's syndrome
  • autism
  • intonation
  • prosody


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