SRCLD 2022 SRCLD Presentation Details
    Filler Disfluencies in High Functioning Autism, Optimal Outcome, and Typical Development: A Marker of Pragmatic Language Skills  
Christina Irvine - University of Connecticut
Inge-Marie Eigsti - University of Connecticut
Deborah Fein - University of Connecticut

SRCLD Year: 2014
Presentation Type: Special Session
Presentation Time: (na)
Spontaneous speech is marked by the presence of frequent disfluencies. Fillers like um and uh each serve distinct pragmatic functions. Prior evidence suggests that adults with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (ASD) fail to produce listener-oriented fillers. The current study examines the production of pragmatic fillers in spontaneous speech among individuals who have achieved “optimal outcomes” (OO) from ASD.

Speech samples from 64 individuals ages 8-21 with OO, ASD, and typical development (TD) were analyzed for um and uh production. Participants with HFA produced um significantly less frequently. TD and OO groups did not differ. Um rate was also inversely correlated with ASD severity within the HFA group.

Participants with ASD produced listener-oriented fillers less frequently than peers, highlighting the unique social communicative function of these markers. Furthermore, individuals with OO show typical production of this pragmatic language function. This strongly substantiates the broader normalization of language and social abilities in OO and the possibility of genuine recovery from ASD.

National Institutes of Mental Health (R01MH076189)
Author Biosketch(es)