The Relation Between Infant Social Engagement and Maternal Behavior in Infants at High-Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder
Colleen M. Harker,1 Thanh P. Nguyen,1 Lisa V. Ibanez,1 Salloni Nanda,1 Elizabeth Karp,1 Daniel S. Messinger, 2 & Wendy L. Stone1
1University of Washington; 2 University of Miami
This study examined maternal and infant behavior in infants at high and low-risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) during a parent-child free play session. Maternal responsiveness and directiveness at 9 months were examined as predictors of growth in infant social smiling between 9-18 months. Both maternal responsiveness and directiveness predicted growth in infant social smiling. Higher levels of responsiveness at 9 months were associated with increased growth in social smiling for both groups. Conversely, higher levels of maternal directiveness were associated with slower growth in infant social smiling for both groups. At 9 months, mothers of high-risk infants displayed higher levels of maternal directiveness, but not responsiveness, relative to mothers of low-risk infants. No group differences were found for trajectory of growth in infant social smiling between 9-18 months. These findings provide further evidence that early maternal behaviors may play an important role in the social development of infants at high and low risk for ASD.
Imitation and Joint Attention as Predictors of Language Outcome In Infants at High and Low Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder
Sarah R. Edmunds,1 Lisa V. Ibanez,1 Devon Gang,2 Daniel Messinger,2 & Wendy L. Stone1
1University of Washington, 2University of Miami
Expressive language impairment in infant siblings of children with ASD is predictive of later adaptive functioning. Infants’ motor imitation and responding to joint attention (RJA) skills were hypothesized as sequential predictors of later expressive language. A longitudinal model was estimated in which RJA at 15 months mediated the association between motor imitation at 12 months and expressive language at 18 months for both high risk and low risk infants. For low risk infants only, 12-month imitation significantly predicted 18-month expressive language above and beyond the RJA pathway. This study was one of the first to employ a prospective, longitudinal design to study predictors of language in infants at risk for ASD. By increasing our knowledge of the multimodal skills underlying infants’ language growth, we can employ early intervention strategies that target those skills.
Evaluating the Impact of Statewide Community-Based Training for Early Intervention Providers
Lisa V. Ibañez, Sarah R. Edmunds, Colleen M. Harker, Elizabeth A. Karp, Courtney Froehlig, Salloni Nanda, & Wendy L. Stone
University of Washington
The Washington State (WA) ASAP! Program was designed to build capacity among early intervention (EI) providers to use evidence-based intervention strategies with young children for whom ASD is suspected. Toward this end, we offered free workshops on a low-cost, easily implementable, ASDspecialized intervention, Reciprocal Imitation Training (RIT). RIT is a shortterm, play-based behavioral intervention that uses a naturalistic approach to teach object and gesture imitation to children with ASD (Ingersoll, 2010). To date, 261 providers have been trained across 5 communities in WA. Results revealed that the ASAP! RIT workshops were well-received and resulted in increased providers’ knowledge about ASD-specialized intervention and use of RIT with families. Improved levels of comfort from pre-workshop to a 3-month follow-up were found for: working with young children with ASD; discussing treatment goals with parents; coaching parents; and setting treatment goals. Six-month follow-up data collection is now underway. Overall, RIT appears to be an acceptable intervention for EI providers and has helped increase community capacity for the provision of ASD-specialized services.