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Mothers' Use Of Imitative Play For Facilitating Social Responsiveness And Toy Play In Young Autistic Children

Geraldine Dawson, Larry Galpert

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AbstractThe effectiveness of imitating an autistic child's actions as a means for promoting social responsiveness and creative toy play was explored. Fifteen autistic children between the ages of 2 and 6 years and their mothers were assessed before and after a 2-week period during which they engaged in imitative play for 20 minutes per day. At the pre-intervention assessment, autistic children's gaze at mother's face was of longer duration, and their toy play was more creative during imitative play than during a free play session. At the post-intervention assessment, significant cumulative increases in duration of gaze at mother's face and creative toy play were found. Children's positive behavior changes were not found to be a function of developmental level of imitative ability, play skills, Vineland social age, IQ, or severity of autistic symptoms. Instead, the majority of children showed positive responses to this interactive strategy, regardless of these individual characteristics.