13th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Portland, OR, USA
September 9-13, 2012

Spontaneous-Speech Acoustic-Prosodic Features of Children with Autism and the Interacting Psychologist

Daniel Bone (1), Matthew P. Black (1), Chi-Chun Lee (1), Marian E. Williams (2), Pat Levitt (3), Sungbok Lee (1), Shrikanth Narayanan (1)

(1) Signal Analysis and Interpretation Laboratory (SAIL);
(2) University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, Keck School of Medicine of USC;
(3) Zilka Neurogenic Institute, Keck School of Medicine of USC;
USC, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Atypical prosody, often reported in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, is described by a range of qualitative terms that reflect the eccentricities and variability among persons in the spectrum. We investigate various word- and phonetic-level features from spontaneous speech that may quantify the cues reflecting prosody. Furthermore, we introduce the importance of jointly modeling the psychologist's vocal behavior in this dyadic interaction. We demonstrate that acoustic-prosodic features of both participants correlate with the children's rated autism severity. For increasing perceived atypicality, we find children's prosodic features that suggest emonotonicf speech, variable volume, atypical voice quality, and slower rate of speech. Additionally, we find the psychologist's features inform their perception of a child's atypical behavior. e.g., the psychologist's pitch slope and jitter are increasingly variable and their speech rate generally decreases.

Index Terms: atypical prosody, autism spectrum disorder, intonation, psychologist, voice quality, ADOS

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Bone, Daniel / Black, Matthew P. / Lee, Chi-Chun / Williams, Marian E. / Levitt, Pat / Lee, Sungbok / Narayanan, Shrikanth (2012): "Spontaneous-speech acoustic-prosodic features of children with autism and the interacting psychologist", In INTERSPEECH-2012, 1043-1046.