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J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2009 Oct;50(10):1255-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2009.02109.x. Epub 2009 Jun 10.

Mothers' narratives regarding their child with autism predict maternal synchronous behavior during play.

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Department of Psychiatry & Bio-behavioral Science, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1759, USA.



Mothers' synchronous playtime behaviors have been linked to language development in children with autism (Siller & Sigman, 2002, 2008). This study sought to explain individual differences in maternal synchrony in order to improve parent-training programs targeting communication skills in children with autism.


Participants were 67 children with autism under the age of 7 and their biological mothers. Maternal cognitions were assessed using two narrative measures, the Insightfulness Assessment (Koren-Karie & Oppenheim, 1997) and the Reaction to Diagnosis Interview (Pianta & Marvin, 1992). Mean levels of maternal synchrony, measured with a micro-analytic coding system (Siller & Sigman, 2002, 2008), were compared between groups formed according to mothers' interview classifications.


Variation in maternal synchrony was related to classification of the Insightfulness Assessment, but not the Reaction to Diagnosis Interview. Child characteristics were not related to interview classifications or ratings of maternal synchrony.


Qualities of mothers' narratives about their child with autism and the relationship with the child are associated with variability in maternal synchronous behavior during play.

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