Differences in teachers verbal responsiveness to groups of children with ASD who vary in cognitive and language abilities

Background: This study aimed to examine whether verbal responsiveness in special education teachers varied among subgroups of children with autism spectrum disorder (n=112) who differed in cognitive and language abilities. Methods: Participants were divided into clusters using cluster analysis based on standardised cognitive and language tests using k-mean clustering. For each child, a 15-min video of free play in school setting was collected. Three types of responsive utterances were coded: follow-in directives for behaviour, follow-in directives for language and follow-in comments. Results: Results showed that the three groups did not differ in overall verbal responsiveness after controlling for engagement, classroom type, age and gender. However, groups differ in follow-in directives for language, but not in follow-in directives for behaviours or follow-in comments. Compared with children with autism spectrum disorder who had higher cognitive and language ability, children with more severe impairments received fewer follow-in directives for language. Moreover, children with more cognitive and language impairments produced fewer amount of vocal/verbal acts, which results in receiving fewer verbal responses from their teachers. Additionally, teachers from the three groups did not differ in their responses to the child’s verbal/vocal acts when the number of the child’s verbal/vocal acts were controlled for. Conclusion: Findings suggest child characteristics are related to the type of teachers’ verbal responses in preschools. This difference in follow-in directives for questions may be related to language or other outcomes that warrant further investigations. © 2018 MENCAP and International Association of the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Background: This study aimed to examine whether verbal responsiveness in special education teachers varied among subgroups of children with autism spectrum disorder (n=112) who differed in cognitive and language abilities. Methods: Participants were divided into clusters using cluster analysis based on standardised cognitive and language tests using k-mean clustering. For each child, a 15-min video of free play in school setting was collected. Three types of responsive utterances were coded: follow-in directives for behaviour, follow-in directives for language and follow-in comments. Results: Results showed that the three groups did not differ in overall verbal responsiveness after controlling for engagement, classroom type, age and gender. However, groups differ in follow-in directives for language, but not in follow-in directives for behaviours or follow-in comments. Compared with children with autism spectrum disorder who had higher cognitive and language ability, children with more severe impairments received fewer follow-in directives for language. Moreover, children with more cognitive and language impairments produced fewer amount of vocal/verbal acts, which results in receiving fewer verbal responses from their teachers. Additionally, teachers from the three groups did not differ in their responses to the child’s verbal/vocal acts when the number of the child’s verbal/vocal acts were controlled for. Conclusion: Findings suggest child characteristics are related to the type of teachers’ verbal responses in preschools. This difference in follow-in directives for questions may be related to language or other outcomes that warrant further investigations. © 2018 MENCAP and International Association of the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

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