Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mother's sensitivity may help language growth in children with autism spectrum disorder

Date:
February 25, 2010
Source:
University of Miami
Summary:
A new study shows that maternal sensitivity may influence language development among children who go on to develop autism. Understanding the benefits of sensitive structuring in the development of language among young children with emergent autism provides scientific support for early intervention programs that focus on parent-child interactions.

A new study by researchers from the University of Miami shows that maternal sensitivity may influence language development among children who go on to develop autism. Although parenting styles are not considered as a cause for autism, this report examines how early parenting can promote resiliency in this population.

The study is published online this month and will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

"Language problems are among the most important areas to address for children with autism, because they represent a significant impairment in daily living and communication," says Daniel Messinger, associate professor in the department of psychology at the University of Miami (UM) College of Arts and Sciences and principal investigator of a larger study of infants at-risk for autism, which includes this study.

Maternal sensitivity is defined in the study as a combination of warmth, responsiveness to the child's needs, respect for his or her emerging independence, positive regard for the child, and maternal structuring, which refers to the way in which a mother engages and teaches her child in a sensitive manner. For example, if a child is playing with colored rings, the mother might say, "This is the green ring," thus teaching the child about his environment, says Messinger.

In this study, maternal sensitivity (and primarily, sensitive structuring) was more predictive of language growth among toddlers developing autism than among children who did not go on to an autism diagnosis. One possible explanation is that children with autism may be more dependent on their environment to learn certain skills that seem to come more naturally to other children.

"Parenting may matter even more for children with developmental problems such as autism because certain things that tend to develop easily in children with typical neurological development, like social communication, don't come as naturally for kids with autism, so these skills need to be taught," says Jason K. Baker, a postdoctoral fellow at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, who conducted the study with Messinger while at UM.

For the study, 33 children were assessed in the lab at 18, 24, 30 and 36 months of age. Some of the children had an older sibling diagnosed with autism and were considered high risk for autism.

At the 18-month assessment, the researchers videotaped a five minute period of mother and child free play in which the mothers were asked to play as they would at home. Aspects of maternal sensitivity were scored on seven-point scales ranging from absence of sensitive behavior to extremely sensitive behavior. Children's language was assessed at 2 and 3 years. At the 3 year visit, when the children were old enough to be evaluated, 12 of children from the high risk group received an autism-spectrum diagnosis.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Its findings parallel previous treatment research indicating that when children with autism increase their connection to the environment they do much better, Baker says. Understanding the benefits of sensitive structuring in the development of language among young children with emergent autism provides scientific support for early intervention programs that focus on parent-child interactions. "We know that parenting doesn't cause autism. The message here is that parents can make a difference in helping their children fight against autism," Baker says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Miami. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jason K. Baker, Daniel S. Messinger, Kara K. Lyons and Caroline J. Grantz. A Pilot Study of Maternal Sensitivity in the Context of Emergent Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2010; DOI: 10.1007/s10803-010-0948-4

Cite This Page:

University of Miami. "Mother's sensitivity may help language growth in children with autism spectrum disorder." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100225101224.htm>.
University of Miami. (2010, February 25). Mother's sensitivity may help language growth in children with autism spectrum disorder. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100225101224.htm
University of Miami. "Mother's sensitivity may help language growth in children with autism spectrum disorder." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100225101224.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) In a ruling attorneys for both sides agreed was a first of its kind, a Georgia appeals court said parents can be held liable for what kids put online. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

Newsy (Oct. 15, 2014) Researchers claim they’ve diagnosed the first example of the disorder in a 31-year-old U.S. Navy serviceman. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Confirmed Case Of Google Glass Addiction

First Confirmed Case Of Google Glass Addiction

Buzz60 (Oct. 15, 2014) A Google Glass user was treated for Internet Addiction Disorder caused from overuse of the device. Morgan Manousos (@MorganManousos) has the details on how many hours he spent wearing the glasses, and what his symptoms were. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins