© 2015 Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. Background: While autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and specific language impairment (SLI) have traditionally been conceptualized as distinct disorders, recent findings indicate that the boundaries between these two conditions are not clear-cut. While considerable research has investigated overlap in the linguistic characteristics of ASD and SLI, relatively less research has explored possible overlap in the socio-cognitive domain, particularly in terms of the emotion recognition abilities of these two groups of children. Aims: To investigate facial and vocal emotion recognition in children with ASD, children with SLI and typically developing (TD) children. To do so, the ASD group was subdivided into those with 'normal' (ALN) and those with 'impaired' (ALI) language to explore the extent to which language ability influenced performance on the emotion recognition task. Methods & Procedures: Twenty-nine children with ASD (17 ALN and 12 ALI), 18 children with SLI and 66 TD children completed visual and auditory versions of an emotion recognition task. For the visual version of the task, the participants saw photographs of people expressing one of six emotions (happy, sad, scared, angry, surprised, disgusted) on the whole face. For the auditory modality, the participants heard a neutral sentence that conveyed one of the six emotional expressions in the tone of the voice. In both conditions, the children were required to indicate how the person they could see/hear was feeling by selecting a cartoon face that was presented on the computer screen. Outcomes & Results: The results showed that all clinical groups were less accurate than the TD children when identifying emotions on the face and in the voice. While the ALN children were less accurate than the TD children only when identifying expressions that require inferring another's mental state (surprise, disgust) emotional expressions, the ALI and the SLI children were less accurate than the TD children when identifying the basic (happy, sad, scared, angry) as well as the inferred emotions. Conclusions & Implications: The results indicate that children with ALI and children with SLI share emotion recognition deficits, which are likely to be driven by the poor language abilities of these two groups.
|Number of pages||15|
|Journal||International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders|
|Early online date||14 Jan 2015|
|Publication status||Published - 6 Jul 2015|