Purpose: This study aimed to identify the nature and extent of receptive and expressive prosodic deficits in children with high-functioning autism (HFA). Method: Thirty-one children with HFA, 72 typically developing controls matched on verbal mental age, and 33 adults with normal speech completed the prosody assessment procedure, Profiling Elements of Prosodic Systems in Children. Results: Children with HFA performed significantly less well than controls on 11 of 12 prosody tasks (p < .005). Receptive prosodic skills showed a strong correlation (p < .01) with verbal mental age in both groups, and to a lesser extent with expressive prosodic skills. Receptive prosodic scores also correlated with expressive prosody scores, particularly in grammatical prosodic functions. Prosodic development in the HFA group appeared to be delayed in many aspects of prosody and deviant in some. Adults showed near-ceiling scores in all tasks. Conclusions: The study demonstrates that receptive and expressive prosodic skills are closely associated in HFA. Receptive prosodic skills would be an appropriate focus for clinical intervention, and further investigation of prosody and the relationship between prosody and social skills is warranted.
- high-functioning autism