An Exploration of Deferred Imitation in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Date

2013-08-26

Authors

Morgan, Jennifer

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore imitation in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by (a) examining the ability of children with ASD to engage in deferred imitation, as compared to typically developing (TD) children; (b) determining the impact of differing time delays on the ability of children with ASD and TD children to imitate simple actions on objects; and (c) examining the role of a verbal prompt on the ability of children with ASD to engage in deferred imitation, as compared to TD controls. Additionally, the role of language in deferred imitation was explored. Participants included 15 children with ASD and 15 TD children. Participants observed object oriented actions and were given the opportunity to imitate spontaneously. Those participants who did not imitate spontaneously were given a verbal prompt and a further opportunity to imitate. Participants with ASD demonstrated fewer spontaneous and total (i.e. spontaneous and prompted) imitations and took more time to do so at a short and a longer time delay, as compared to TD participants. Participants with ASD were given more verbal prompts than TD participants at a short and a longer time delay. Language was related to deferred imitation at a short time delay for participants with ASD but not for TD participants and language was not related to deferred imitation at a longer time delay for either group.

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Keywords

autism, deferred imitation, spontaneous imitation, prompted imitation, language and imitation

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