Listener vs. speaker-oriented aspects of speech: Studying the disfluencies of individuals with autism spectrum disorders
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This study investigates the role of disfluencies such as "um" or "uh" in conversation to discern whether these features of speech serve listener- or speaker-oriented functions by looking at their occurrence (or lack of occurrence) in the speech of participants with autism. Since the characteristic egocentricity of individuals with autism means they should engage in minimal listener-oriented behavior, they are a useful group to differentiate these functions. Transcription, analysis and categorization of 26 spontaneous language samples were derived from age-matched native English-speaking controls and high-functioning individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Results showed that individuals with ASD produced fewer filled-pause words (ums and uhs) and revisions than controls, but more silent pauses and disfluent repetitions. Filled-pause words therefore appear to be listener-oriented features of speech.
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