Auditory-motor mapping training facilitates speech and word learning in tone language–speaking children with autism: An early efficacy study

Jinting Yan, Fei Chen, Xiaotian Gao, Gang Peng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: It has been reported that tone language–speaking children with autism demonstrate speech-specific lexical tone processing difficulty, although they have intact or even better-than-normal processing of nonspeech/melodic pitch analogues. In this early efficacy study, we evaluated the therapeutic potential of Auditory-Motor Mapping Training (AMMT) in facilitating speech and word output for Mandarin-speaking nonverbal and low-verbal children with autism, in comparison with a matched non–AMMT-based control treatment. Method: Fifteen Mandarin-speaking nonverbal and low-verbal children with autism spectrum disorder participated and completed all the AMMT-based treatment sessions by intoning (singing) and tapping the target words delivered via an app, whereas another 15 participants received control treatment. Generalized linear mixed-effects models were created to evaluate speech production accuracy and word production intelligibility across different groups and conditions. Results: Results showed that the AMMT-based treatment provided a more effective training approach in accelerating the rate of speech (especially lexical tone) and word learning in the trained items. More importantly, the enhanced training efficacy on lexical tone acquisition remained at 2 weeks after therapy and generalized to untrained tones that were not practiced. Furthermore, the low-verbal participants showed higher improvement compared to the nonverbal participants. Conclusions: These data provide the first empirical evidence for adopting the AMMT-based training to facilitate speech and word learning in Mandarinspeaking nonverbal and low-verbal children with autism. This early efficacy study holds promise for improving lexical tone production in Mandarin-speaking children with autism but should be further replicated in larger scale randomized studies. Supplemental Material: https://doi.org/10.23641/asha.16834627.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4664-4681
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Volume64
Issue number12
Early online date27 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2021

Keywords

  • autism
  • nonverbal
  • low-verbal
  • Mandarin
  • lexical tones
  • Melodic Intonation Therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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