Autism News: Laughter of Autistic Children Rated More Favorably than Laughter of Typically Developing Children

Autism News Update:

Autism Research Finds Laugh of Autistic Children is Rated More Favorably than Laugh of Typically Developing Children
Laugh of Children with Autism Ranked More Favorably than Laugh of Typically Developing Children in Autism Study

Previous autism research has demonstrated that the laugh of autistic children differs from that of normally developing children.  However, no research has been conducted to determine which type of laughter is ranked as “more favorable” by listeners.

A recent study attempted to find whether the laugh of autistic children or the laugh of typically developing children is rated higher by listeners.  The study also sought to determine whether or not listeners could distinguish the laugh of autistic children from the laugh of typically developing children.  The findings were published in an article titled Listeners Prefer the Laughs of Children with Autism to those of Typically Developing Children.

Laughs were recorded from autistic children and typically developing children between the ages of 8 to 10 years of age.  Listeners were then asked to answer 2 questions:

  1. Which laugh was produced by an autistic child and which was produced by a typically developing child?
  2. Which laugh is “more favorable”?

The study found that listeners were able to distinguish betweem the laugh of an autistic child and the laugh of a typically developing child.  However, they were only able to do so at a rate slightly above chance.  The study also identified a subset of listeners who were better able to distinguish between the different laughs.  These listeners looked specifically for uncontrolled and/or longer laughs.

The researchers also reported that listeners ranked an autistic laugh more positively than the laugh of a typically developing child.

The authors suggest the findings of their research indicate that laughter may be a way for children with autism to form friendships.  This conclusion is likely drawn from the fact that the laughter of autistic children was rated as more favorable than the laughter of typically developing children.

The article was epublished in Autism on August 2, 2011.

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