Listeners prefer the laughs of children with autism to those of typically developing children

William J. Hudenko, Ithaca College
Michael A. Magenheimer, Ithaca College

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of laugh sounds produced by 8- to 10-year-old children with and without autism on naïve listeners, and to evaluate if listeners could distinguish between the laughs of the two groups. Results showed that listeners rated the laughs of children with autism more positively than the laughs of typically developing children, and that they were slightly above chance levels at judging which group produced the laugh. A subset of participants who reported listening for " uncontrolled" or "longer" laughs were significantly better at discriminating between the laughs of the two groups. Our results suggest that the laughs of children with autism have the potential to promote the formation of relationships. © The Author(s) 2011.