Here is the abstract from Lucy Dempster’s final year research project, supervised by Dr Faye Smith and Professor Helen McConachie.
Comparing Interactions of Children with Autism with their Parents and Learning Support Assistants
Children with autism have difficulties initiating interactions and generalising skills across contexts. Therefore, providing intervention in both home and school contexts may be beneficial. The aim of this study was to compare the baseline level of adult synchrony and child initiations to see if there were any differences between parents and LSAs. Participants were 77 children with autism with a parent and LSA from the PACT-G trial who were filmed interacting separately with each adult. Adult communication acts were coded according to synchrony and child communication acts were coded as initiations or responses. A synchronous communication act follows the child’s attention, and a child initiation starts an interaction. No significant differences were found between the proportion of parents’ and LSAs’ synchronous responses or between the proportion of child initiations with parents and LSAs. There was no correlation at baseline between adult synchrony and child initiations. The results of this study indicate that when interacting with a child with autism, parents and LSAs have very similar interaction styles and the children interacted similarly with both adults. This indicates that both adults could benefit from intervention to increase synchrony as this has been associated with increased child initiations.
Key words: Language Intervention for Children, autism