Objectives: Objectives are to test if joint attention and symbolic play skills in children with ASD ages 3-4 are associated with higher conversation quality scores in children at ages 8-9.
Methods: Participants in this longitudinal study include 23 children with ASD seen at 3-4 years and later at 8-9 years. These children participated in a larger study and are included here since they were given Module 3 of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule – Generic (ADOS) that involves several presses in which pragmatic language can be assessed. At age 3-4 children received a battery of evaluations to assess communicative interactions, play skills, receptive and expressive language, and cognitive development. Specifically, one of the tests included the Structured Play Assessment (SPA).
At age 8-9 children were assessed on the ADOS, Module 3. Portions of the structured interview that did not call for materials were assessed to specifically analyze pragmatic language in conversations in unstructured contexts without visual cues.
Videos were analyzed using the Yale-Adaptation of the Pragmatic Rating Scale (Y-PRS). This scale is based on ADOS videotaped interviews and modified from the Pragmatic Rating Scale developed by Landa et al. (1992). The PRS identifies 30 pragmatic behaviors frequently reported to be adversely impacted in ASD. The scale is divided into 3 categories: (1) Pragmatic Behaviors, (2) Speech and Language Behaviors, and (3) Other Communicative Behaviors.
Results: Significant associations were found between symbolic play types and frequency on the Structured Play Assessment at age 3-4 and subsequent conversation quality scores and pragmatics ratings in conversation at ages 8-9. The associations between joint attention and pragmatic language scores were non-significant.
Conclusions: Symbolic play types represent flexibility in play skills. These skills early in development were associated with later conversational quality. Thus, the presence of flexibility in play may allow children to further develop their representational, and social conversational abilities through multiple interactions with adults and peers. The extent to which specific aspects of pragmatic language are influenced by earlier social communication skills should be further investigated.
See more of: Treatment Trials: Behavioral Interventions
See more of: Prevalence, Risk factors & Intervention