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Keywords:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders;
  • Speech Perception;
  • Auditory Processing;
  • Aging

While temporal and perceptual processing abnormalities, identified in a number of electrophysiological and brain imaging studies of individuals with (ASD), are likely to impact on speech perception, surprisingly little is known about the behavioral outcomes of such abnormalities. It has been hypothesized that rapid temporal processing deficits may be linked to impaired language development through interference with acoustic information during speech perception. The present study aimed to investigate the impact of temporal changes on encoding and recall of speech, and the associated cognitive, clinical, and behavioral correlates in adults with ASD. Research carried out with typically developing (TD) adults has shown that word recall diminishes as the speed of speech increases, and it was predicted that the magnitude of this effect would be far greater in those with ASD because of a preexisting rapid temporal processing deficit. Nineteen high-functioning adults with ASD, and age- and intelligence-matched TD controls performed verbatim recall of temporally manipulated sentences. Reduced levels of word recall in response to increases in presentation speed were observed, and this effect was greater in the older participants in the ASD group than in the control group. This is the first study to show that both sensory abnormalities and aging impact on speech encoding in ASD. Auditory processing deficits in ASD may be indicative of an association with the sensory abnormalities and social and communication impairments characterizing the disorder. Autism Res 2014, 7: 40–49. © 2013 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.