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

4 Aug

When you see a paper with a title like that, you have to read the abstract. OK, I have to. I didn’t expect this to be profound. It is interesting, though. Right up the the last ( and in my opinion unfortunate) sentence.

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.

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13 Responses to “Listeners prefer the laughs of children with autism to those of typically developing children.”

  1. daedalus2u August 5, 2011 at 03:08 #

    I seem to remember having seen this before. My suspician then was that the laugh of an autistic child was more authentic, it was not designed to manipulate or communicate something other than the child’s state of humor, so as communication it was easier to decode and less ambiguous.

    There is another story going around, of the autistic child who won “best personality” at a beauty pagent, which her mother strenuously objected to. My thought was that this girl was the only one who was not trying to manipulate the judges and back-stab the other contestents. If so, that should win “best personality”.

    http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/fashion/child-beauty-pageant-under-for-awarding-autistic-girl-tahnee-myles-best-personailty/story-e6frfn7i-1226106345484

  2. sharon August 5, 2011 at 04:53 #

    The beauty pagent story has so many layers of wrong I don’t know where to start. So won’t.

    The laughing study is interesting in a curious kind of way. Who ran the study? And why? You have to wonder what they will do with that theory?

  3. Kassiane August 5, 2011 at 05:23 #

    “My kid has an awful personality because she’s autistic”. Jesus crispies.

    I heard this study before too…or a similar one. I think in that one they decided they need to teach autistics to fakelaugh.

  4. Sunshine August 8, 2011 at 22:18 #

    Ick. I wouldn’t wanna be in a beauty contest and win for “best personality.” Seems to insinuate something…

  5. stanley seigler August 9, 2011 at 19:19 #

    [sharon say] The laughing study is interesting in a curious kind of way. Who ran the study? And why? You have to wonder what they will do with that theory?

    what they’ll do: teach normals to laugh like autistics…and provide numerous critical follow up articles…

    stanley seigler

  6. Anne August 16, 2011 at 10:03 #

    Autistics laugh? But, but Dr. Bryna Siegel at UCSF Autism Clinic says they don’t laugh and have no sense of humor. If they do, this means their parents just want them to have an autism diagnosis because they want services the kids don’t need.

    /

    • Sullivan August 16, 2011 at 21:34 #

      Just to be clear–I find this study very strange.

  7. sharon August 17, 2011 at 08:37 #

    Yes very strange indeed. We need to know more. Like, why?

  8. Anne August 17, 2011 at 10:36 #

    A quick Google search for the primary author of the paper shows that he’s with the Autism Clinic at Ithaca College. His faculty profile seems to be saying that he’s looking for *positive* things about autistic children and how to leverage those factors to improve social skills, rather than focusing on what’s wrong with them.

    http://www.ithaca.edu/hs/depts/psychology/researchteams/autism/

    He has an earlier paper discussing the different phonological characteristics of autistics’ laughter.

    The “” tags on my previous post didn’t work; my true opinion agrees with the early poster who suggested that autistic kids are genuinely amused when they laugh, without hidden agendas.

  9. Anne August 17, 2011 at 10:37 #

    Arrgh, the comment system even eats my SNARK faux-html tag when it’s in quotes.

  10. Julian Frost August 17, 2011 at 11:51 #

    Anne: Use square brackets for faux-html tags. I learnt that the hard way.

  11. Anne August 17, 2011 at 13:36 #

    Thanks, Julian!

  12. mammaF August 18, 2011 at 10:30 #

    well that wuz an encouraging read!! Thank You!! My Honeyboo(severely autastic) has the sweetest, most infectious laugh sometimes. Now if i could just get him to tell me what is so dang funny!! (he communicates, but not with traditional speaking langage that everybody understands)

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