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Title page for ETD etd-07172011-131351

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Lieberman, Rebecca Graham
URN etd-07172011-131351
Title Effects of a Parent-Mediated Intervention on Object Play and Play’s Association with Communication in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Degree PhD
Department Special Education
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Paul J. Yoder Committee Chair
Ann Kaiser Committee Member
Evon Batey Lee Committee Member
Mark Wolery Committee Member
  • Play
  • Communication
  • Early Intervention
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
Date of Defense 2011-07-11
Availability unrestricted
In many western families, young children spend much of their time engaging in object play with adult social partners. Such interactions provide a rich context for early communication development and language learning. Object play and communication have been found to be related early in life in populations of children with typical development and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Prior studies in samples of children with ASD have also found that efficacy of social-communication interventions, such as Hanen More Than Words (HMTW), may be moderated by children’s pretreatment object play skills.

The current study examined whether HMTW, a parent-mediated social-communication intervention, taught object play skills, providing one explanation as to why treatment efficacy was moderated by initial play in an earlier study. Additionally, the current study examined the longitudinal associations between object play and intentional communication. Finally, exploratory analyses were conducted to determine additional associations between play and communication constructs, and to examine a model in which object play mediated the longitudinal association between responding to joint attention (RJA) and later expressive language.

No main effects of treatment on object play at Time 3 were found. Additionally, bi-directional, longitudinal associations between mostly nonverbal intentional communication and object play were not significant. However, exploratory analyses revealed significant, bi-directional longitudinal associations between Time 2 and Time 3 RJA and weighted object knowledge in the control group. Additionally, Time 2 weighted object knowledge mediated the association between Time 1 RJA and Time 3 expressive language. Potential explanations for the interrelatedness of RJA, object play, and expressive language, as well as implications for practice, are discussed.

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