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Autism Res. 2019 May;12(5):715-731. doi: 10.1002/aur.2100. Epub 2019 Apr 16.

The relation between parent verbal responsiveness and child communication in young children with or at risk for autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Department of Psychology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.


Among preschool-age children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and typically developing children, parents' verbal responsiveness (PVR) has long been shown to predict children's later language ability. However, before the age of three, when language develops most rapidly, the early social communication deficits associated with ASD may impact parents' opportunities to facilitate early language development. The aim of this review was to characterize the relation between PVR and the vocal communication ability of children with or at high risk for ASD early in development. Specifically, we examined whether the relation between PVR and child communication varied by type of PVR and by child diagnostic status, as well as whether interventions increased PVR. A systematic multi-database search yielded 25 empirical studies (804 parent-toddler dyads; 30 effect sizes) that met inclusion criteria and related a variable of PVR to a variable of child vocalization or language. Meta-regression analyses revealed that the relation between PVR and child communication was significant regardless of PVR type or child diagnostic status. To date, interventions targeting both PVR and child communication were found to significantly increase PVR, but not child communication, for these populations. Future research should examine parent-child communication in a transactional, longitudinal manner. In addition, these findings have implications for interventions designed to target parents' responsiveness and child communication. Autism Research 2019, 12: 715-731. © 2019 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc. LAY SUMMARY: For families with children under 3 years old who are at risk for or diagnosed with ASD, this study revealed empirical evidence of a robust relation between parents'' verbal responsiveness to their children's play and communication and children's communication ability. This relation is similar to that reported in research on typically developing children. Interventions designed to improve parent-child interaction in children with or at risk for ASD may be effective in increasing parents' responsiveness.


autism spectrum disorder; child; communication; language development; parent-child relations; parents

[Available on 2020-05-01]

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