Article  |   October 2012
A Comparison of Developmental Social–Pragmatic and Naturalistic Behavioral Interventions on Language Use and Social Engagement in Children With Autism
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Brooke Ingersoll
    Michigan State University
  • Katherine Meyer
    Michigan State University
  • Nicole Bonter
    Michigan State University
  • Sara Jelinek
    Michigan State University
  • Correspondence to Brooke Ingersoll: ingers19@msu.edu
  • Editor: Janna Oetting
    Editor: Janna Oetting×
  • Associate Editor: Catherine Lord
    Associate Editor: Catherine Lord×
Article Information
Development / Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Language Disorders / Social Communication & Pragmatics Disorders / Language
Article   |   October 2012
A Comparison of Developmental Social–Pragmatic and Naturalistic Behavioral Interventions on Language Use and Social Engagement in Children With Autism
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2012, Vol. 55, 1301-1313. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/10-0345)
History: Received December 10, 2010 , Revised May 9, 2011 , Accepted February 13, 2012
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2012, Vol. 55, 1301-1313. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2012/10-0345)
History: Received December 10, 2010; Revised May 9, 2011; Accepted February 13, 2012
Web of Science® Times Cited: 2

Purpose: Developmental social–pragmatic and naturalistic behavioral interventions share a number of features, but they differ in their use of facilitative strategies and direct elicitation of child language. In this study, the authors investigated whether these approaches produce different language and social outcomes in young children with autism.

Method: The authors used an ABACAD design to compare the effects of a developmental social–pragmatic, naturalistic behavioral, and combined intervention on language type and function and social engagement in 5 children with autism.

Results: Milieu teaching and the combined intervention produced higher rates of language targets than did responsive interaction. An analysis of the type and function of language targets suggested that differences between conditions were driven primarily by prompted—and, to a lesser extent, spontaneous—requests. Social engagement ratings were higher during each intervention than at baseline, but differences between treatment conditions were not consistent across children.

Conclusions: For children with autism, naturalistic interventions that use direct elicitation of child language lead to greater short-term gains in the use of expressive language targets—in particular, prompted requests—than interventions that use facilitative strategies only. All 3 naturalistic language interventions can promote social engagement. For some children, the combined use of direct elicitation and responsiveness-based strategies may enhance treatment response.

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 the research assistants who worked on this project.
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