Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education

Committee Chair(s)

Stephanie Borrie


Stephanie Borrie


Daphne Hartzheim


Tyra Sellers


Purpose: Conversational entrainment, the phenomenon whereby people modify their behaviors to match their communication partner, has been evidenced as critical to successful conversation. It is plausible that deficits in entrainment contribute to the conversational breakdowns and social difficulties exhibited by people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The present study examined speech rate entrainment in populations with and without ASD.

Method: Sixty participants including typically developing children, children with ASD, typically developed adults, and adults with ASD, participated in a quasi-conversational paradigm with a pseudo-confederate. The confederate’s speech rate was digitally manipulated to create slow and fast speech rate conditions.

Results: Typically developed adults entrained their speech rate to that of the pseudo-confederate, employing a faster rate in the fast speech rate conditions and a slower rate in the slow speech rate conditions. This entrainment pattern was not evident in adults with ASD, or the children populations.

Conclusion: Findings suggest that speech rate entrainment is a developmentally acquired skill and offers preliminary evidence of speech rate entrainment deficits in adults with ASD. Impairments in this area may contribute to the conversational breakdowns and social difficulties experienced by this population. Future work is needed to advance this area of enquiry.