The Impact of Object and Gesture Imitation Training on Language Use in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research Vol.53 1040-1051 August 2010. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/09-0043)
© American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Michigan State University, East Lansing
Contact author: Brooke Ingersoll, 105B Psychology Building, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reciprocal 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.
Method: This 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.
Results: Three 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.
Conclusion: These 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.
KEY WORDS: autism spectrum disorder, imitation, language, gesture
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