Increasing Child Vocalizations to Facilitate Language Skills of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
We evaluate whether contingent responses and vocal elicitation strategies cause an immediate (i.e., in session) increase in quantity (Aims 1 & 2) and quality (Aim 3; exploratory) of child vocalizations to which adults can respond with language-facilitating input. When adults use contingent responses to child vocalizations, their vocalizations and actions depend on when and how the child vocalizes. Multiple theories emphasize bidirectional effects of caregiver-child interactions in children’s vocal development and support the use of contingent responses. However, children with ASD show lower rates of vocalizations, particularly for speech-like vocalizations. Thus, contingent responses alone may be insufficient for increasing the quantity and quality of their vocalizations. We test the added value of vocal elicitation strategies, which use vocal toys (e.g., microphones) within turn-taking activities to facilitate vocal productions. Vocalization quality may change more slowly under the intervention conditions than quantity. Because of limited empirical evidence on the expected rate of change, Aim 3 is exploratory.