The Impact of Object and Gesture Imitation Training on Language Use in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder PurposeReciprocal imitation training (RIT) is a naturalistic behavioral intervention that teaches imitation to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) within a social–communicative context. RIT has been shown to be effective at teaching spontaneous, generalized object and gesture imitation. In addition, improvements in imitation are associated with increases in verbal imitation ... Article
Article  |   August 01, 2010
The Impact of Object and Gesture Imitation Training on Language Use in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Brooke Ingersoll
    Michigan State University, East Lansing
  • Katherine Lalonde
    Michigan State University, East Lansing
  • Contact author: Brooke Ingersoll, 105B Psychology Building, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824. E-mail: ingers19@msu.edu.
Article Information
Development / Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language
Article   |   August 01, 2010
The Impact of Object and Gesture Imitation Training on Language Use in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2010, Vol. 53, 1040-1051. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/09-0043)
History: Received March 3, 2009 , Revised July 23, 2009 , Accepted November 9, 2009
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2010, Vol. 53, 1040-1051. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/09-0043)
History: Received March 3, 2009; Revised July 23, 2009; Accepted November 9, 2009
Web of Science® Times Cited: 21

PurposeReciprocal imitation training (RIT) is a naturalistic behavioral intervention that teaches imitation to children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) within a social–communicative context. RIT has been shown to be effective at teaching spontaneous, generalized object and gesture imitation. In addition, improvements in imitation are associated with increases in verbal imitation and spontaneous language.

MethodThis study used a modified multiple-baseline design across 4 children to examine whether adding gesture imitation training improves the overall rate of appropriate language use in children with ASD who have already been participating in object imitation training.

ResultsThree of the 4 children showed greater improvements in their use of appropriate language after gesture imitation was begun. Further, the children were more likely to use verbal imitation during gesture imitation training than during object imitation training.

ConclusionThese findings suggest that adding gesture imitation training to object imitation training can lead to greater gains in rate of language use than object imitation alone. Implications for both language development and early intervention are discussed.

Acknowledgments
This study was supported by a grant from Autism Speaks to the first author. We are grateful to the children and their families who participated in this research. We also thank Nicole Bonter and Matthew Goodman for their assistance on this project.
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