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An exploration of caregiver object labels to children at high vs. low risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder: the role of child factors and joint engagement context

Kushner, Elizabeth (2019) An exploration of caregiver object labels to children at high vs. low risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder: the role of child factors and joint engagement context. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The current study presents a characterization of parent object labels to children at high risk (HR) for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Parent object labeling has been well-studied in typical development and has begun to be characterized among children with ASD, however, no studies have examined how parents use object labels in interaction with HR children (i.e. children with an older sibling with ASD). Children with ASD show deficits in social communication and interaction, therefore, the social aspects of interactions are thought to be at the root of differences in language and communicative development among these children. Despite evidence that these deficits are present among HR children, few studies have examined how object labels and others aspects of input may vary within different joint engagement (JE) contexts. The present study aimed to fill these gaps by observing and recording naturalistic parent-child interaction at 18-months in the home. Parent speech was transcribed and coded, dividing the interaction into mutually exclusive engagement states and coding utterances containing object labels. Features of object labels including diversity of labels, length, sentence position, function, parent prompts for child speech, and contingency of labels on children’s focus were coded. At 36-months all HR children were classified into one of three outcome groups: high risk children who received no diagnosis (HR-ND), high risk children who had a language delay but not ASD (HR-LD), and HR children who went on to receive a diagnosis of ASD (HR-ASD). Parent use of object labels in interaction were compared across these outcome groups, additionally, use of labels within different engagement states was compared across outcome groups. Differences in parents’ use of object labels were only present when examined within individual joint engagement states. Within included joint engagement contexts, parents of HR children prompted children to produce fewer labels, used shorter and simpler utterances with labels, and used fewer diverse label types and tokens. Additionally, only the position of labels within sentences were significantly related to toddler language, however, higher rates of simpler sentences predicted poorer toddler language outcomes. Findings and implications are discussed.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Kushner, Elizabethehk8@pitt.eduehk8
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairIverson, Janajmiverson@pitt.edujmiverson
Committee MemberLuyster, Rhiannonrhiannon_luyster@emerson.eduN/A
Committee MemberGallen, Robertrobert.gallen@pitt.edurobert.gallen
Committee MemberBachman, Heatherhbachman@pitt.eduhbachman
Date: 23 April 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 10 April 2019
Approval Date: 23 April 2019
Submission Date: 17 April 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 67
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: David C. Frederick Honors College
School of Education > Psychology in Education
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Autism, Development, High Risk, Language Development, Joint Engagement
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2019 19:57
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2019 19:57


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