Earlier Identification of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Automatic Vocalisation-Based Approach

Florian B. Pokorny, Björn Schuller, Peter B. Marschik, Raymond Brueckner, Pär Nyström, Nicholas Cummins, Sven Bölte, Christa Einspieler, Terje Falck-Ytter


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder usually diagnosed in or beyond toddlerhood. ASD is defined by repetitive and restricted behaviours, and deficits in social communication. The early speech-language development of individuals with ASD has been characterised as delayed. However, little is known about ASD-related characteristics of pre-linguistic vocalisations at the feature level. In this study, we examined pre-linguistic vocalisations of 10-month-old individuals later diagnosed with ASD and a matched control group of typically developing individuals (N = 20). We segmented 684 vocalisations from parent-child interaction recordings. All vocalisations were annotated and signal-analytically decomposed. We analysed ASD-related vocalisation specificities on the basis of a standardised set (eGeMAPS) of 88 acoustic features selected for clinical speech analysis applications. 54 features showed evidence for a differentiation between vocalisations of individuals later diagnosed with ASD and controls. In addition, we evaluated the feasibility of automated, vocalisation-based identification of individuals later diagnosed with ASD. We compared linear kernel support vector machines and a 1-layer bidirectional long short-term memory neural network. Both classification approaches achieved an accuracy of 75% for subject-wise identification in a subject-independent 3-fold cross-validation scheme. Our promising results may be an important contribution en-route to facilitate earlier identification of ASD.


 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1007

Cite as: Pokorny, F.B., Schuller, B., Marschik, P.B., Brueckner, R., Nyström, P., Cummins, N., Bölte, S., Einspieler, C., Falck-Ytter, T. (2017) Earlier Identification of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Automatic Vocalisation-Based Approach. Proc. Interspeech 2017, 309-313, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1007.


@inproceedings{Pokorny2017,
  author={Florian B. Pokorny and Björn Schuller and Peter B. Marschik and Raymond Brueckner and Pär Nyström and Nicholas Cummins and Sven Bölte and Christa Einspieler and Terje Falck-Ytter},
  title={Earlier Identification of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Automatic Vocalisation-Based Approach},
  year=2017,
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2017},
  pages={309--313},
  doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1007},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1007}
}