USE OF MULTIMODAL COMMUNICATION IN PLAY INTERACTIONS WITH CHILDREN WITH AUTISM
Bernstein Ratner, Nan
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In typical adult-child interaction, adults tend to coordinate gesture and other nonverbal modes of communication with their verbalizations (multimodal communication). This study explored the effectiveness of multimodal communication with young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to encourage child responses. The maternal use of verbal, nonverbal, and multimodal initiations and the subsequent response or lack of response of their child was examined in fifty mother/child video-recorded play interactions. Results indicated that mothers initiated multimodally at similar rates with children with lower and higher expressive language levels. Child response rates to multimodal communication initiations were higher than response rates to verbal-only or nonverbal-only initiations; this finding was consistent across low and high expressive language groups. Additionally, a significant positive correlation was found between maternal wait time after initiation and overall child response rate. These findings have important ramifications for clinical practice and parent training.