Variability in Speech and Language in Individuals with Autism and Associated Traits

Saturday, 15 February 2014: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Columbus IJ (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Individuals on the autism spectrum are characterized by deficits in social interaction, communication, and behavioral flexibility. Recent studies have shown that autistic traits are not restricted to individuals who have clinical diagnoses of autism. Research has focused on identifying markers of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the associated traits (the broader autism phenotype, or BAP) in auditory and language processing, particularly in the domain of pragmatics and discourse. Until recently, however, few studies have looked at the impact that autism spectrum and associated traits have on speech perception and production. Also not yet fully explored is how these findings inform the broader inquiries concerning the nature of human linguistic abilities. Are the differences in linguistic behaviors a reflex of a broken language “faculty” or should they be thought of as quantitative extremes of the normal distribution? This symposium reviews the most current research in the field and considers its implications from linguistic, psychological, and neuropsychological perspectives. The findings highlight the tremendous variations in linguistic abilities among individuals with varying degrees of autistic traits on and off the spectrum. Better understanding the sources of this variability will not only inform future studies of autism, it will also contribute to better appreciation of the complexity of the human language faculty.
Alan C. Yu, University of Chicago
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