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PLoS One. 2016 Nov 9;11(11):e0164930. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0164930. eCollection 2016.

Auditory-Motor Mapping Training: Comparing the Effects of a Novel Speech Treatment to a Control Treatment for Minimally Verbal Children with Autism.

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Music and Neuroimaging Laboratory, Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, United States of America.
Center for Autism Research Excellence, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Boston University, Boston, United States of America.


This study compared Auditory-Motor Mapping Training (AMMT), an intonation-based treatment for facilitating spoken language in minimally verbal children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), to a matched control treatment, Speech Repetition Therapy (SRT). 23 minimally verbal children with ASD (20 male, mean age 6;5) received at least 25 sessions of AMMT. Seven (all male) were matched on age and verbal ability to seven participants (five male) who received SRT. Outcome measures were Percent Syllables Approximated, Percent Consonants Correct (of 86), and Percent Vowels Correct (of 61) produced on two sets of 15 bisyllabic stimuli. All subjects were assessed on these measures several times at baseline and after 10, 15, 20, and 25 sessions. The post-25 session assessment timepoint, common to all participants, was compared to Best Baseline performance. Overall, after 25 sessions, AMMT participants increased by 19.4% Syllables Approximated, 13.8% Consonants Correct, and19.1% Vowels Correct, compared to Best Baseline. In the matched AMMT-SRT group, after 25 sessions, AMMT participants produced 29.0% more Syllables Approximated (SRT 3.6%);17.9% more Consonants Correct (SRT 0.5); and 17.6% more Vowels Correct (SRT 0.8%). Chi-square tests showed that significantly more AMMT than SRT participants in both the overall and matched groups improved significantly in number of Syllables Approximated per stimulus and number of Consonants Correct per stimulus. Pre-treatment ability to imitate phonemes, but not chronological age or baseline performance on outcome measures, was significantly correlated with amount of improvement after 25 sessions. Intonation-based therapy may offer a promising new interventional approach for teaching spoken language to minimally verbal children with ASD.

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