TitleImitative ability in preschool age children with autism in the presence of odor
NameCoffield, Caroline Nell (author), Haviland-Jones, Jeannette M (chair), Hudson, Judith (internal member), Harris, Sandra (internal member), Reddy, Linda (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Autism spectrum disorders,
Imitation in children,
DescriptionIndividuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are generally thought to be impaired in the ability to imitate, but the causal processes responsible for this deficit are not well understood. Different theoretical perspectives offer different insights as to which behaviors are most difficult for individuals with ASD to imitate and why. This study investigated the imitative ability of five 3-5 year old children with ASD and thirty-two of their typically developing peers of the same ages on several categories of behavior thought to be difficult for individuals with ASD to imitate, including emotional expressions, motor behaviors, and sequences. Imitation was assessed twice using a newly refined imitation test, with approximately 1 week between visits. Imitation was scored for each component of the action imitated for each repetition. Overall, there were differences in imitative ability due to age for every category measured and due to diagnosis for nearly every category, with larger effect sizes for age. When all categories were measured at once, there was a significant age X diagnosis interaction; performance of older children with ASD approximated that of older typically developing children but younger children with ASD were consistently the worst imitators. Odor effects were modest. In general, odor affected imitative performance differently for older and younger children, with younger children benefiting more from odor when imitating more complex tasks. Looking behavior also varied according to age and diagnosis, with younger children with ASD appearing disorganized in their strategy for attending during the imitation task. The other groups appeared similar, with older children with ASD approximating the looking behavior of younger typically developing children. Looking behavior and imitation performance were related. It is suggested that the study of imitation should be broad enough to speak to multiple theoretical perspectives so as to create a more unified description of imitative abilities in individuals with ASD.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Caroline Nell Coffield
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.