Laughter differs in children with autism: an acoustic analysis of laughs produced by children with and without the disorder

J Autism Dev Disord. 2009 Oct;39(10):1392-400. doi: 10.1007/s10803-009-0752-1. Epub 2009 May 16.


Few studies have examined vocal expressions of emotion in children with autism. We tested the hypothesis that during social interactions, children diagnosed with autism would exhibit less extreme laugh acoustics than their nonautistic peers. Laughter was recorded during a series of playful interactions with an examiner. Results showed that children with autism exhibited only one type of laughter, whereas comparison participants exhibited two types. No group differences were found for laugh duration, mean fundamental frequency (F(0)) values, change in F(0), or number of laughs per bout. Findings are interpreted to suggest that children with autism express laughter primarily in response to positive internal states, rather than using laughter to negotiate social interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Autistic Disorder / psychology*
  • Child
  • Expressed Emotion
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laughter / physiology*
  • Laughter / psychology
  • Male
  • Speech Acoustics