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J Autism Dev Disord. 2012 Aug;42(8):1616-29. doi: 10.1007/s10803-011-1401-z.

Behavioral and physiological responses to child-directed speech of children with autism spectrum disorders or typical development.

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Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, CB# 7190, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7190, USA.


Young boys with autism were compared to typically developing boys on responses to nonsocial and child-directed speech (CDS) stimuli. Behavioral (looking) and physiological (heart rate and respiratory sinus arrhythmia) measures were collected. Boys with autism looked equally as much as chronological age-matched peers at nonsocial stimuli, but less at CDS stimuli. Boys with autism and language age-matched peers differed in patterns of looking at live versus videotaped CDS stimuli. Boys with autism demonstrated faster heart rates than chronological age-matched peers, but did not differ significantly on respiratory sinus arrhythmia. Reduced attention during CDS may restrict language-learning opportunities for children with autism. The heart rate findings suggest that young children with autism have a nonspecific elevated arousal level.

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