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13-04-2020 | Uitgave 7/2020

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 7/2020

Affective Prosody Perception and the Relation to Social Competence in Autistic and Typically Developing Children

Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology > Uitgave 7/2020
Nichole E. Scheerer, Fakhri Shafai, Ryan A. Stevenson, Grace Iarocci
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Individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have difficulty perceiving and expressing emotions. Since prosodic changes in speech (i.e. changes in intonation, stress, rhythm, etc.) are crucial for extracting information about the emotional state of a speaker, an inability to perceive and interpret these prosodic changes may be related to impairments in social communication. This study used non-verbal emotional voice-clips to examine the ability of autistic and typically-developing children (7–13 years old) to extract affect from changes in prosody. This research also explored whether difficulty extracting affective intent from changes in prosody may be related to social competence. Autistic (n = 26) and typically-developing (n = 26) children accurately matched emotional voice-clips to emotion words, suggesting autistic children can accurately extract the affective meaning conveyed by changes in prosody. Autistic children were less accurate at matching the voice-clips to emotional faces, suggesting that autistic children may struggle to make use of prosodic information in a social context. Across both autistic and typically-developing children, prosody-face matching accuracy was found to predict overall social competence, as well as social inferencing abilities, suggesting that the inability to utilize affective information derived from a speaker’s voice may interfere with effective social communication.

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