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Title Transactional analyses of early parent-child interaction and social communication development in typically developing children and those at risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder
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Publication Date
Date Accessioned
Degree PhD
Discipline/Department Clinical Psychology
Degree Level doctoral
University/Publisher University of Texas – Austin
Abstract The transactional model (Sameroff, 1975) supports the notion that bidirectional influences of the child and his/her early caregiving environment have a profound impact on child development. Thus, it behooves researchers to consider child and parent characteristics, as well as parent-child dynamics, which might lead to more or less optimal developmental trajectories. This dissertation used a transactional approach to study synchrony during early childhood. In this collection of studies, synchrony is defined as the degree to which a parent’s nonverbal and verbal communication follows or redirects their child’s focus of attention and action during play (Siller & Sigman, 2002). Parent-child dyads engaged in an unstructured free play session with a standardized set of toys, which was later coded for Synchrony (Siller & Sigman, 2002, 2008). 1) The first study included typically developing toddlers and their mothers. It tested associations between synchrony and the Emotional Availability (EA) Scales (Biringen, 2008), and also explored associations between synchrony, EA, child temperament, and toddlers’ joint attention abilities. 2) The second study included mothers and typically developing infants. It longitudinally explored the stability of synchrony from 9 to 18 months and whether synchrony predicted individual differences in the development of joint attention from 9 to 18 months and language at 24 months. 3) The third study included mothers and infants with an older sibling with autism (sibs-ASD) or without autism (sibs-TD). It assessed whether certain parent and child characteristics (e.g., parenting stress, infant temperament) contribute to individual differences in synchrony at 12 and 15 months. This body of work helps to: establish the stability of synchrony in early childhood, distinguish synchrony and EA parent-child interaction measures, clarify how synchrony is related to the development of nonverbal and verbal communication, and identify certain parent and child factors that predict individual differences in synchrony.
Subjects/Keywords Synchrony; Parent-child interaction; Social communication; Joint attention; Autism; Infancy; Early child development; Language development
Contributors Neal, A. Rebecca (advisor); Woolley, Jacqueline (committee member); Echols, Catharine (committee member); Levine, Ann (committee member); Hixon, John G (committee member)
Language en
Country of Publication us
Record ID handle:2152/47224
Repository texas
Date Retrieved
Date Indexed 2019-09-12
Grantor The University of Texas at Austin
Note [department] Psychology;

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…18 months and whether synchrony predicted individual differences in the development of joint attention from 9 to 18 months and language at 24 months. 3) The third study included mothers and infants with an older sibling with autism (sibs-ASD…

…helps to: establish the stability of synchrony in early childhood, distinguish synchrony and EA parent-child interaction measures, clarify how synchrony is related to the development of nonverbal and verbal communication, and identify certain parent and…

…these studies examine parent behavior irrespective to that of the child, despite the fact that child behavior may affect the mother’s behavior during the interaction (Murray & Trevarthen, 1986). In contrast, one parent-child interaction

…construct that does directly account for both partners in the interaction is synchrony. Synchrony Synchrony1 is broadly defined as “an observable pattern of dyadic interaction that is mutually regulated, reciprocal, and harmonious” (Harrist & Waugh…

…consists of redirecting a child’s focus or actions. Since this definition accounts for both partners in the interaction, it is dyadic and therefore more conducive to a transactional approach to analysis and interpretation of results. In addition, it uses…

…of attention (Carpenter et al., 1998). Additionally, Siller and Sigman (2008) demonstrated a link between synchrony and language growth in young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) between the ages of roughly 3.5…

…whether these associations can be generalized to TD children of the same chronological or mental age. Thus, preliminary studies indicate that synchrony may be an important predictor of early language development in both TD children and children with ASD…

…nonverbal communication that serves as a precursor to language is joint attention (Moore & Dunham, 1995). Joint attention is the ability of an individual to coordinate his or her attention with that of a social partner in order to create a shared…

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