Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 49, Issue 8, pp 3203–3217 | Cite as

Responsive Parenting and Prospective Social Skills Development in Early School-Aged Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Barbara CaplanEmail author
  • Jan Blacher
  • Abbey Eisenhower
Original Paper


Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) vary greatly in social functioning, and in turn, long-term relational and academic outcomes. Responsive parenting which follows a child’s lead and focus of attention is predictive of language and social gains for children with or without developmental risk. The present study prospectively assessed 176 families of children with ASD (ages 4 to 7 years) to examine predictors of observed responsive parenting and associations of responsive parenting with concurrent and prospective growth in social functioning by multi-method assessment. Responsive parenting concurrently associated with child characteristics (IQ, language, sex) and child social engagement within the interaction. Structural equation models revealed that responsive parenting positively predicted prospective growth in social skills by teacher but not parent report.


Parenting Responsivity Social skills Autism spectrum disorder 



This paper was derived from a longitudinal project funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (R324A110086; J. Blacher, P.I.). Support was also provided by the SEARCH Family Autism Resource Center in the Graduate School of Education, UC Riverside. We are indebted to our colleagues and students as well as the children, parents, and teachers who participated in this research.

Author Contributions

BC conceived of the study, coordinated all coding efforts, designed and conducted statistical analyses and drafted the manuscript; JB and AE led all data collection efforts, provided constructive feedback regarding the study design and interpretation of the results. All authors reviewed and helped to revise the manuscript, and approved the final product.


This project was funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (R324A110086; J. Blacher, P.I.). Support was also provided by the SEARCH Family Autism Resource Center in the Graduate School of Education, UC Riverside.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in this study.

Research Involving Human Participants/Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional review board of the University and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Supplementary material

10803_2019_4039_MOESM1_ESM.docx (118 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 118 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of EducationUniversity of CaliforniaRiversideUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MassachusettsBostonUSA

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