Research at TRI
Field, T., Field, T., Sanders, C. & Nadel, J. (2001). Children with autism display more social behaviors after repeated imitation sessions. Autism, 5, 317-323.
• The present study explored the effects of repeated sessions of imitation. Twenty children were recruited from a school for children with autism to attend three sessions during which an adult either imitated all of the children’s behaviors or simply played with the child. During the second session the children in the imitation group spent a greater proportion of time showing distal social behaviors toward the adult including: (1) looking; (2) vocalizing; (3) smiling; and (4) engaging in reciprocal play. During the third session, the children in the imitation group spent a greater proportion of time showing proximal social behaviors toward the adult including: (1) being close to the adult; (2) sitting next to the adult; and (3) touching the adult.
Field, T., Nadel, J., Diego, M., Hernandez-Reif, M., Russo, K., Vchulek, D. & Lendi, K. (2008). Children with Autism Are More Imitative With An Imitative Adult Than With Their Parents. Early Child Development and Care, 178, 1-6.
• Children with autism (mean age= 6 years) were videotaped first interacting with a parent and then with an unfamiliar researcher who imitated the child’s behaviours. The researcher showed more imitative and playful behaviours than the parents. In turn, the children showed more imitative behavior when playing with the imitative researcher than with their parents.
Nadel, J., Martini, M., Field, T., Escalona, A., & Lundy, B. (2008). Children with Autism Approach More Imitative and Playful Adults. Early Child Development and Care, 178, 461-465.
• Children with autism were selected to be in high-approach and low-approach groups based on a median split of their proximity-seeking behavior with adults (looking at, approaching and touching adults) during videotaped interactions. The same videotapes of those two sets of interactions were then coded and analyzed for the adult partners' behaviors. The adult interaction partner of high-approach children showed more looking at child, smiling at child, moving toward child, inviting child to play, imitating child in play and being playful.