The conclusions on prosodic pitch features in autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have primarily been derived from studies in non-tonal language speakers. This cross-linguistic study evaluated the performance of imitating Cantonese lexical tones and their non-linguistic (nonspeech) counterparts by Cantonese- and Mandarin-speaking children with and without ASD. Acoustic analyses showed that, compared with typically developing peers, children with ASD exhibited increased pitch variations when imitating lexical tones, while performed similarly when imitating the nonspeech counterparts. Furthermore, Mandarin-speaking children with ASD failed to exploit the phonological knowledge of segments to improve the imitation accuracy of non-native lexical tones. These findings help clarify the speech-specific pitch processing atypicality and phonological processing deficit in tone-language-speaking children with ASD.
- Lexical tone
- Non-linguistic pitch
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology