Imitation Skills in Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder in Different Stimulation Situations
Objectives: To analyze the imitation skills of children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder in different stimulation situations.
Methods: The sample was composed of 20 children, 16 boys and 4 girls aged in between 3 and 12 years, diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder according to the diagnostic criteria of the DSM-IV (APA, 2002) and ICD-10 (OMS, 1998). We have conducted the Imitation Test (Takiuchi, Befi-Lopes, 2000) composed of imitation of simple and sequential gesture schemes. Nine simple gestures and four sequential actions were added to the original proposal, so that a total of 18 gestures and 8 actions were randomly grouped into two forms of presentation: on a computer screen and personally. These simple and sequential gesture schemes represent everyday actions, eg: to imitate the gesture of drinking from a cup, or to imitate the actions of putting the doll to sleep. The implementation of tasks in both on the computer screen and personally was made by the same Speech and Language Therapist. The children were placed in front of her or the computer screen and received the instruction to observe every simple or sequential gesture schemes and play them immediately.
Results: The children had a low score of positive answers both for simple gestures and for actions, regardless of these being presented on the computer screen or personally. Therefore, there was no advantage in using different stimulation situations. There was a significant correlation between receptive vocabulary and intellectual level in some of the sequenced actions.
Conclusions: It was possible to analyze the imitation skills of children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder in different stimulation situations and to verify that, in general, the children had difficulty in imitating gestures and sequenced actions presented both on the computer screen and personally.