Generalisation of Social Communication Skills by Autistic Children During Play-Based Assessments Across Home, School and an Unfamiliar Research Setting

Sophie Carruthers, Tony Charman*, Kathy Leadbitter, Ceri Ellis, Lauren Taylor, Heather Moore, Carol Taylor, Kirsty James, Matea Balabanovska, Sophie Langhorne, Catherine Aldred, Vicky Slonims, Vicki Grahame, Patricia Howlin, Helen McConachie, Jeremy Parr, Richard Emsley, Ann Le Couteur, Jonathan Green, Andrew Pickles

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We investigated autistic children’s generalisation of social communication over time across three settings during a play-based assessment with different adults and explore the potential moderating effects on generalisation of age, nonverbal IQ and level of restricted and repetitive behaviours. The social communication abilities of 248 autistic children (2–11 years, 21% female, 22% single parent, 60% white) from three UK sites were assessed from 1984 video interactions in three contexts with three different interaction partners (parent/home, teaching assistant/school, researcher/clinic) at baseline, midpoint (+ 7m) and endpoint (+ 12m) within the Paediatric Autism Communication Trial-Generalised (PACT-G), a parent-mediated social communication intervention. Children’s midpoint social communication at home generalised to school at midpoint and to clinic at endpoint. Generalisation was stronger from home to school and clinic than school to home and clinic. Generalisation was not moderated by age, nonverbal IQ or restricted and repetitive behaviour. Broader child development did not explain the pattern of results. The current study is the largest study to date to explore generalisation with autistic children and provides novel insight into their generalisation of social communication skills. Further research is needed to gain a more comprehensive understanding of facilitators of generalisation across settings and interaction partners in order to develop targeted strategies for interventions to enhance outcomes for young autistic children.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024

Keywords

  • Autism
  • Development
  • Generalisation
  • Social communication

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