Spontaneous, elicited and deferred imitation in children with autism spectrum disorder
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Imitation, a key vehicle for both cognitive and social development, is often regarded as more difficult for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) than for children with Down syndrome (DS) or typically developing (TD) children. The current study investigates similarities and differences in observed elicited, spontaneous and deferred imitation using both actions with objects and gestures as imitation tasks in these groups. Imitation among 19 children with autism (M age 67 months) was compared with 20 children with DS (M age = 63 months) and 23 TD children (M age 35 months) matched for mental and language age. Elicited imitation resulted in significantly lower scores for the children with ASD in comparison with the other two groups (DS and TD), an effect mainly carried by low level of imitation of gestures among the ASD children. In comparison, we observed no differences in mean imitation scores between the groups on spontaneous imitation. However, both the children with ASD and DS displayed less deferred imitation than the TD group. Furthermore, the proneness to imitate, especially elicited imitation, differed between groups: Only 10 (53%) of the children with autism responded in the elicited imitation condition compared to all children with DS and almost all TD children (87%). These findings add to our understanding of the kind of imitation difficulties children with ASD might have. They also point to the necessity not to equate various imitation measures since they may capture different processes and also be differently motivating for children with autism.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-117040OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-117040DiVA: diva2:803098