Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate characteristics of speech disfluency in school-age children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (HF-ASD), children who stutter (CWS), and control children on reading, story retelling, and picture description tasks. Methods: Seven HF-ASD, 6 CWS, and 8 control children participated in this study. All participants ranged in age from 6 to 8 years and were matched for age and vocabulary ability. Speech samples were collected from three speaking tasks, and disfluency characteristics were identified and classified as stuttering-like disfluencies (SLD) or other disfluencies (OD). Results: Three groups did not differ in OD frequencies across the three speaking tasks. There was no significant difference between the HF-ASD and CWS groups in total disfluencies (TD) on the picture description task with SLD on the story retelling and picture description tasks. In the HF-ASD group, TD frequency in story retelling and OD frequency in story retelling and picture description were significantly higher compared to their reading performance; SLD frequency did not change significantly across tasks. In SLD subtypes, there was no significant difference in single-syllable repetition, part-word repetition and prolongation frequencies between the HF-ASD and CWS groups, but the CWS group produced more blocks than the HF-ASD group. Conclusion: These results demonstrate that, similar to children who stutter, school-age children with HF-ASD are disfluent in their verbal production except for reading. This finding suggests that the disfluent speech characteristics of HF-ASD children should be considered in evaluation and intervention.
- High-functioning autism spectrum disorder
- Other disfluencies
- Stuttering-like disfluencies