Objective: The purpose of the present study was to assess how adolescents with autism who vary in the severity of autistic characteristics judge the emotional state of the speaker when lexical and prosodic information is congruent or incongruent. Participants: Eighty participants, 24 autistic and 56 typically developing (TD) subjects participated: (a) 11 autistic adolescents between 9.5 and 16.83 years old, studying at general education settings (AA1), (b) 13 autistic adolescents between 15.91 and 20.33 years old, studying at a special school (AA2), and (c) 56 TD subjects between 6 and 29 years old. Listeners were required to judge the emotional meaning of words (sad/happy) in congruent conditions and incongruent conditions. Results: (a) All participants judged lexical and prosodic meaning separately with high accuracy, (b) all participants showed prolonged reaction times in the incongruent compared to the congruent condition, (c) AA1 relied on prosodic information in the incongruent condition similarly to TD 9-15 year olds and TD adults, (d) AA2 and TD 6-8 year olds did not rely on prosodic information in the incongruent condition, and (e) both education placements, the severity of autistic characteristics and nonverbal IQ contributed to prosodic judgment in the incongruent condition in autistic adolescents. Conclusions: The two groups of autistic adolescents processed both lexical and prosodic information in the incongruent condition. However, the severity of autistic characteristics influenced the preference for prosody.

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