Parent-Child Mutual Responsiveness, Language Development, and Peer Relationships in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Friday, May 15, 2015: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Imperial Ballroom (Grand America Hotel)
A. Rodda1, A. M. Estes2 and J. Munson1, (1)University of Washington, Seattle, WA, (2)Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Background:   Parental responsiveness has been shown to relate to language development in children with ASD. However less is known about how child behavior contributes.  Mutual responsiveness, a two-part interaction, in which both parent and child initiate and respond, may also relate to language abilities and peer relationships in children with ASD. 

Objectives: 1) Characterize mutual responsiveness patterns in preschool children with ASD and their parents,  2) Examine the relationship between mutual responsiveness and concurrent language ability 3) Investigate the relationship between mutual responsiveness and concurrent peer relationships.  

Methods: 41 preschool-age children with ASD and their parents were part of a larger study on early intervention, the Early Start Denver Model. The parent-child dyads completed a 15-minute video-recorded play interaction that was coded by highly-trained coders. Measures included 1) a global interaction rating scale to characterize mutual responsiveness following the play interaction, in which coders rated behaviors on a scale of 1-9, with higher scores indicating higher frequency of interactive verbal and nonverbal behaviors throughout the task.  Items include “does the parent consistently respond to the child’s interests or initiations?” and “does the child vocalize in response to the parent?” 2) Micro-analytic codes using the Relationship Affect Coding System for verbal, nonverbal, and affective behavior including talk, orienting, and positive affect of children and parents during the play interaction, which will be used to characterize mutual responsiveness, 3) a standardized, norm-referenced language test, the Preschool Language Scale, 4th Edition (PLS-IV), and 4) selected items from the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R) describing peer relationships.   

Results: The first mutual responsiveness pattern detected was a range of global impressions ratings (mean=6.2, SD=1.01, range=3.72-8.2). Additional analyses will investigate mutual responsiveness patterns using micro-analytic coding. Global interaction ratings were significantly related to better language ability (r (41) = .47, p < .01.). Global interaction ratings and peer relationships were not significantly related (p=0.59).  Additional analyses will investigate the relationship between micro-analytic coding of mutual responsiveness and peer relationships.

 Conclusions:  Preliminary results suggest global ratings of parent-child mutual responsiveness show a range (from less to more frequent responsiveness) and are significantly related to concurrent language abilities in preschool children with ASD.   This has implications for parent-implemented interventions which could be enhanced by targeting frequent responsive behavior verbally, nonverbally, and affectively in parent-child interaction to improve language development in children with ASD.