What is it about?

Some people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can have their communication negatively effected by differences in their speech prosody (i.e. intonation). For these individuals, it is important to know the current best methods to help adjust their speech prosody if they seek treatment. We reviewed the current evidence into speech prosody interventions for persons with ASD. We found that a variety of interventions showed moderate to large improvements if a) speech prosody was directly targeted, b) the intervention included pre-established evidence-based practices for interventions with persons with ASD, and c) lasted longer than a day. Further research into this area is needed because the overall research quality of the studies we found was low.

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Why is it important?

To our knowledge, this is the first published systematic summary of the evidence on interventions targeting speech prosody for persons with autism spectrum disorder specifically. It provides a concise resource to assist clinicians and stakeholders in evidence-based practice decisions about speech prosody interventions with this population.


My hope with this article is to give clinicians, particularly speech-language pathologists, some concrete ideas for how to treat what is sometimes a nebulous, moving target. It was encouraging that there were several options that showed promise, so individuals, families, and clinicians can have some flexibility to tailor the intervention. Yet, since the overall quality of the research in this area was low, it will be critical for clinicians to carefully monitor progress to see if their chosen intervention or intervention package is actually making a difference.

Sarai Holbrook
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Speech Prosody Interventions for Persons With Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Systematic Review, American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2020, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA),
DOI: 10.1044/2020_ajslp-19-00127.
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