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Referential Behavior and Interactions of Young Children with Autism and their Mothers in an Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention Program: A Longitudinal Study
AuthorLewon, Ainsley B
AdvisorGhezzi, Patrick M
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Early intensive behavioral intervention (EIBI) is the most thoroughly evaluated and established psychoeducational support for young children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Current research related to linguistic development in EIBI has substantiated the broad claim that children improve markedly on standard measures of speech and communication from pre to posttreatment. Research on how language and conversational behavior develop as a child progresses through EIBI is notably absent, however, especially with respect to research that incorporates direct, socially significant measures of improvement in everyday circumstances with parents and caregivers. The present study used Bijou and colleagues’ (1986; 1988) referential coding system to characterize how conversational interactions between mothers and their children with ASD evolve as children progress through EIBI treatment. Analysis of monthly conversation samples, taken from a child’s intake to discharge, showed changes for most dyad’s referential interactions including: 1) how often the children initiated referential interactions, 2) how often the children responded to their mother’s initiations, 3) how long the dyad discussed a referent. The extent of these changes varied across dyads and appeared to correspond to pre and posttreatment measures of adaptive behavior and autism symptomology.