Temporal Coordination and Prosodic Structure in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Timing Across Speech and Non-speech Motor Domains

J Autism Dev Disord. 2021 Aug;51(8):2929-2949. doi: 10.1007/s10803-020-04758-z. Epub 2020 Oct 24.


Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often exhibit disordered speech prosody, but sources of disordered prosody remain poorly understood. We explored patterns of temporal alignment and prosodic grouping in a speech-based metronome repetition task as well as manual coordination in a drum tapping task among Cantonese speakers with ASD and normal nonverbal IQ and matched controls. Results indicate similar group results for prosodic grouping patterns, but significant differences in relative timing and longer syllable durations at phrase ends for the ASD group. Variability on the speech task was significantly correlated with variability on the drumming task, consistent with the view that impairment in both speech and non-speech motor domains can be linked with deficits in temporal processing.

Keywords: Autism; Motor control; Prosody; Speech timing; Temporal processing.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / complications
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Speech / physiology*
  • Speech Disorders / complications
  • Speech Disorders / psychology*
  • Speech Perception / physiology*
  • Time Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult