Article  |   February 2013
The Contribution of Two Categories of Parent Verbal Responsiveness to Later Language for Toddlers and Preschoolers on the Autism Spectrum
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Eileen Haebig
    University of Wisconsin—Madison
  • Andrea McDuffie
    University of California, Davis
  • Susan Ellis Weismer
    University of Wisconsin—Madison
  • Correspondence to Eileen Haebig: ehaebig@wisc.edu
  • Editor: Carol Scheffner Hammer
    Editor: Carol Scheffner Hammer×
  • Associate Editor: Nancy Brady
    Associate Editor: Nancy Brady×
  • © 2013 American Speech-Language-Hearing AssociationAmerican Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Article
Article   |   February 2013
The Contribution of Two Categories of Parent Verbal Responsiveness to Later Language for Toddlers and Preschoolers on the Autism Spectrum
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, February 2013, Vol. 22, 57-70. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2012/11-0004)
History: Received January 7, 2011 , Revised September 1, 2011 , Accepted July 24, 2012
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, February 2013, Vol. 22, 57-70. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2012/11-0004)
History: Received January 7, 2011; Revised September 1, 2011; Accepted July 24, 2012
Web of Science® Times Cited: 3

Purpose: The authors examined longitudinal associations between 2 categories of parent verbal responsiveness and language comprehension and production 1 year later in 40 toddlers and preschoolers with a diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Method: Parent–child play samples using a standard toy set were digitally captured and coded for child engagement with objects and communication acts and for parent verbal responses to play and communication.

Results: After controlling for parent education, child engagement, and initial language level, only parent directives for language that followed into the child’s focus of attention accounted for unique variance in predicting both comprehension and production 1 year later. A series of exploratory analyses revealed that parent comments that followed into the child’s focus of attention also accounted for unique variance in later comprehension and production for children who were minimally verbal at the initial time period.

Conclusions: Child developmental level may warrant different types of linguistic input to facilitate language learning. Children with ASD who have minimal linguistic skills may benefit from parent language input that follows into the child’s focus of attention. Children with ASD who are verbally fluent may need more advanced language input to facilitate language development.

Acknowledgments
Funding for this project was provided by National Institutes of Health Grants R01 DC007223 and T32 DC05359-06 (Susan Ellis Weismer, principal investigator), as well as by a core grant, P30 HD03352, to support the Waisman Center (Marsha Seltzer, principal investigator). We sincerely appreciate the contribution of the families who participated in this study. Also, we thank Amy Stern for her valuable help.
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