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J Autism Dev Disord. 2007 Aug;37(7):1256-63.

Clarifying the associations between language and social development in autism: a study of non-native phoneme recognition.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Avenue, Campus Box 8134, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA. constantino@wustl.edu

Abstract

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are characterized by correlated deficiencies in social and language development. This study explored a fundamental aspect of auditory information processing (AIP) that is dependent on social experience and critical to early language development: the ability to compartmentalize close-sounding speech sounds into singular phonemes. We examined this ability by assessing whether close-sounding non-native language phonemes were more likely to be perceived as disparate sounds by school-aged children with high-functioning ASD (n = 27), than by unaffected control subjects (n = 35). No significant group differences were observed. Although earlier in autistic development there may exist qualitative deficits in this specific aspect of AIP, they are not an enduring characteristic of verbal school-aged children with ASD.

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