Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 745–755 | Cite as

The Relation between Severity of Autism and Caregiver-Child Interaction: a Study in the Context of Relationship Development Intervention

  • Jessica A. Hobson
  • Laura Tarver
  • Nicole Beurkens
  • R. Peter Hobson
Article

Abstract

The aim of this study was to examine the relations between severity of children’s autism and qualities of parent-child interaction. We studied these variables at two points of time in children receiving a treatment that has a focus on social engagement, Relationship Development Intervention (RDI; Gutstein 2009). Participants were 18 parent-child dyads where the child (16 boys, 2 girls) had a diagnosis of autism and was between the ages of 2 and 12 years. The severity of the children’s autism was assessed at baseline and later in treatment using the autism severity metric of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS; Gotham et al. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 39, 693–705 2009). Although the ADOS was designed as a diagnostic measure, ADOS calibrated severity scores (CSS) are increasingly used as one index of change (e.g., Locke et al. Autism, 18, 370–375 2014). Videotapes of parent-child interaction at baseline and later in treatment were rated by independent coders, for a) overall qualities of interpersonal relatedness using the Dyadic Coding Scales (DCS; Humber and Moss The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 75, 128-141 2005), and b) second-by-second parent-child Co-Regulation and Intersubjective Engagement (processes targeted by the treatment approach of RDI). Severity of autism was correlated with lower quality of parent-child interaction. Ratings on each of these variables changed over the course of treatment, and there was evidence that improvement was specifically related to the quality of parent-child interaction at baseline.

Keywords

Autism Joint attention Parent-child interaction Relationship Development Intervention (RDI) 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica A. Hobson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Laura Tarver
    • 3
  • Nicole Beurkens
    • 4
  • R. Peter Hobson
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Child HealthUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologySonoma State UniversityRohnert ParkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Speech and Language SciencesUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.Horizons Developmental Resource CenterCaledoniaUSA

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