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Automated Measures to Understand Communication Opportunities for Young Children With Autism in the Community: A Pilot Study

Jun 28, 2019
Members of the Research and Development team's study on communication opportunities for children with Autism was published in the Occupation, Participation and Health journal.

Community participation is vital to children’s development and provides opportunities to practice social communication skills. Although previous studies suggest that young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) experience decreased community participation, there is little empirical evidence on the precise patterns of participation that may influence social
communication opportunities. Therefore, this pilot study investigated the communication among families of children with ASD (n = 5) versus typical development (TD; n = 5) across various community locations. We used automated, objective measures: the Language ENvironmental Analysis (LENA) system™ to measure the amount of communication and integrated this with a Global Positioning System (GPS; that is, Qstarz™) to measure community location. Results showed that families of children with ASD and TD spent a similar amount of time in community locations; however, there were differences in
the amount of adult talk directed toward children with ASD versus TD across community locations. Findings suggest that automated measures may be successfully integrated to quantify social communication during community participation.