Study on mother's approach affecting language development

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whirlingmind
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11 Apr 2013, 10:33 pm

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 101224.htm

Although I would argue that perhaps the mother was highly verbal and articulate (especially if she is an Aspie herself) and her children had a genetic predisposition towards being the same. It may not be that she actively taught the skills, they may just have that in them.


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Highlander852456
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12 Apr 2013, 7:30 am

All is possible. The problem I had was small vocabulary. Anything else in my vocabulary was too technical for every day use.



animalcrackers
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12 Apr 2013, 2:46 pm

whirlingmind wrote:
Although I would argue that perhaps the mother was highly verbal and articulate (especially if she is an Aspie herself) and her children had a genetic predisposition towards being the same. It may not be that she actively taught the skills, they may just have that in them.


I'd be inclined to think the same thing.

That whole article bothers me...it says on the one hand that the idea is just that parenting influences the development of certain skills, but it uses language that belongs in a discussion about preventing autism -- e.g: "infants at-risk for autism", "Some of the children [...] were considered high-risk for autism", and "12 of children from the high risk group received an autism-spectrum diagnosis". It's extremely contradictory.

Quote:
Maternal sensitivity is defined in the study as a combination of warmth, responsiveness to the child's needs, respect for his or her emerging independence, positive regard for the child, and maternal structuring, which refers to the way in which a mother engages and teaches her child in a sensitive manner. For example, if a child is playing with colored rings, the mother might say, "This is the green ring," thus teaching the child about his environment, says Messinger.

[...]

"We know that parenting doesn't cause autism. The message here is that parents can make a difference in helping their children fight against autism," Baker says.


The fact that good parenting enhances a child's ability to develop, to learn, and (if necessary) to overcome things that may be limiting/challenging (any kind of disability or adversity -- not just autism) seems pretty obvious to me...

I don't like the idea that autism is a looming threat to development that children need to be helped to "fight against"... I don't feel I've "fought against" my autism -- I've fought hard to learn things that don't come naturally to me, but I've done so by using the autistic thinking that does come naturally to me.

Quote:
For the study, 33 children were assessed in the lab at 18, 24, 30 and 36 months of age. Some of the children had an older sibling diagnosed with autism and were considered high risk for autism.

At the 18-month assessment, the researchers videotaped a five minute period of mother and child free play in which the mothers were asked to play as they would at home. Aspects of maternal sensitivity were scored on seven-point scales ranging from absence of sensitive behavior to extremely sensitive behavior. Children's language was assessed at 2 and 3 years. At the 3 year visit, when the children were old enough to be evaluated, 12 of children from the high risk group received an autism-spectrum diagnosis.


I wonder what qualifies an infant/young child as "high risk" or "at-risk" for developing autism in this study -- displaying certain behaviors more or less than whatever is considered normal, genetic background (having a sibling with autism), or both? ....In any case, it seems like bad science to say "This subgroup of children who were too young to diagnose with autism ended up not being diagnosed with autism later on, as compared to the rest of the larger group...that must mean autism is preventable based on whatever environmental correlation we were looking for," because you don't have any evidence to point to that clearly demonstrates that those not-diagnosed children's "high risk" symptoms/behaviors (if any existed at all -- if risk is based on having a sibling with autism alone then I'd say the correlation is even weaker) were actually of similar origin to the autistic children's -- all you know is they looked similar to whoever was observing.


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Ettina
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12 Apr 2013, 4:31 pm

They're not talking about the mother being highly verbal. Maternal sensitivity is the ability to listen to and follow your child's cues. Eg when your child tries to get your attention, do you respond? When your child is overloaded, do you notice this and back off? Do you match your mood to your child's - sympathetic when they're upset, happy when they're happy?

It's no surprise that it improves language in autistic kids. The same thing has been found with hearing mothers of deaf kids. Hearing mothers often struggle a lot to engage in joint attention with deaf kids (particularly symbol-infused joint attention, where they're both attending to something while communicating about it. Mothers who are high in parental sensitivity are better able to figure out how to communicate with their deaf child - how to get their attention, waiting until they're looking before trying to sign to them, etc.

I suspect it's something similar with autistic kids. A high parental sensitivity makes it easier for an NT mother to get the attention of an autistic kid and figure out how to communicate with them. This improves the kid's language development.

(Incidentally, maternal sensitivity also shows a strong link with attachment security, across all types of children.)



whirlingmind
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13 Apr 2013, 5:42 am

Well if that's so then the article is wrong. I've always been very sensitive to my childrens' needs and tuned in to what they want, tried to anticipate things I know will be problematic for them, helped them with any problem really quickly, but they are both still autistic. Or am I to believe they would have been severely autistic had I not been this way...


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Ettina
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13 Apr 2013, 4:15 pm

Quote:
Well if that's so then the article is wrong. I've always been very sensitive to my childrens' needs and tuned in to what they want, tried to anticipate things I know will be problematic for them, helped them with any problem really quickly, but they are both still autistic.


It has nothing to do with whether the kid is autistic. There was no difference between mothers of autistic versus NT infants in sensitivity.

However, autistics with sensitive mothers developed better expressive language than autistics with less sensitive mothers. (This effect was not found for NT kids.)