Quantifying Voice Characteristics for Detecting Autism

Meysam Asgari, Liu Chen, Eric Fombonne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The presence of prosodic anomalies in autistic is recognized by experienced clinicians but their quantitative analysis is a cumbersome task beyond the scope of typical pen and pencil assessment. This paper proposes an automatic approach allowing to tease apart various aspects of prosodic abnormalities and to translate them into fine-grained, automated, and quantifiable measurements. Using a harmonic model (HM) of voiced signal, we isolated the harmonic content of speech and computed a set of quantities related to harmonic content. Employing these measures, along with standard speech measures such as loudness, we successfully trained machine learning models for distinguishing individuals with autism from those with typical development (TD). We evaluated our models empirically on a task of detecting autism on a sample of 118 youth (90 diagnosed with autism and 28 controls; mean age: 10.9 years) and demonstrated that these models perform significantly better than a chance model. Voice and speech analyses could be incorporated as novel outcome measures for treatment research and used for early detection of autism in preverbal infants or toddlers at risk of autism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number665096
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
StatePublished - Sep 7 2021


  • autism spectrum disorder
  • harmonic model
  • machine learning
  • prosody
  • speech analysis
  • voice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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