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Teaching children with autism to imitate others may improve social skills

Date:
December 15, 2011
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Teaching young children with autism to imitate others may improve a broader range of social skills, according to a new study.
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Teaching young children with autism to imitate others may improve a broader range of social skills, according to a new study by a Michigan State University scholar.

The findings come at a pivotal time in autism research. In the past several years, researchers have begun to detect behaviors and symptoms of autism that could make earlier diagnosis and even intervention like this possible, said Brooke Ingersoll, MSU assistant professor of psychology.

"It's pretty exciting," Ingersoll said. "I think we, as a field, are getting a much better idea of what autism looks like in infants and toddlers than we did even five years ago."

In the current study, Ingersoll found that toddlers and preschoolers with autism who were taught imitation skills made more attempts to draw the examiner's attention to an object through gestures and eye contact, a key area of deficit in autism.

Imitation is an important development skill that allows infants and young children to interact and learn from others. However, children with autism often show a lack of ability to imitate.

The study, which appears in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, analyzed children with autism who were 27 months to 47 months old.

The findings come on the heels of a paper Ingersoll published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science that highlighted recent findings in autism research by U.S. scientists.

While autism is typically diagnosed between the ages of 2 and 3, new research is finding symptoms of autism disorders in children as young as 12 months, the paper found.

"I think there's a lot of hope that if we can figure out the right behaviors early enough, and intervene early enough, we may be able to prevent the development of autism," Ingersoll said.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Brooke Ingersoll. Brief Report: Effect of a Focused Imitation Intervention on Social Functioning in Children with Autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2011; DOI: 10.1007/s10803-011-1423-6

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Teaching children with autism to imitate others may improve social skills." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111212124518.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2011, December 15). Teaching children with autism to imitate others may improve social skills. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 22, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111212124518.htm
Michigan State University. "Teaching children with autism to imitate others may improve social skills." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111212124518.htm (accessed May 22, 2015).

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