Presentation Title

Theory of Mind Understanding, Language Complexity, and Story Coherence of Children with ASD Following a Parent-Delivered Narrative Intervention

Presenter's Name(s)

Hannah Stewart SheehyFollow

Project Collaborators

Patricia Prelock (Thesis Mentor), Hope Morris (Collaborating Mentor)

Abstract

One of the primary challenges of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the development of Theory of Mind (ToM), which is the ability to attribute mental states to oneself and others. This study examined the effects of a parent-led narrative intervention on the language complexity and story coherence of three school-aged children with ASD. Developed to scaffold social-cognitive development, the six-week intervention asked parent-child dyads to read three storybooks that emphasize various aspects of ToM (e.g., visual perspective-taking, emotion recognition, and false belief understanding). The intervention books were supplemented with a script for parents that instructed them to ask questions and make comments to best facilitate their child’s ToM development.

Parents and their children completed two standardized measures of ToM as well as a Picture Storytelling Task prior to and following the six-week intervention. The stories they told during this task were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for language complexity. Additionally, the stories were blindly scored using a story coherence rubric, which measured the quality of their narratives. Results showed that in addition to their improved scores on ToM measures, all three children improved in specific aspects of language complexity and story coherence following intervention. This demonstrates the benefits of parent-implemented, narrative-based interventions for children with ASD, and reinforces the belief that social-cognition, language complexity, and narrative competence develop in concert.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Patricia Prelock

Secondary Mentor NetID

hmorris

Secondary Mentor Name

Hope Morris

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Nursing and Health Sciences

Program/Major

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Primary Research Category

Health Sciences

Second College (optional)

Honors College

Second Program/Major

Religion

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Theory of Mind Understanding, Language Complexity, and Story Coherence of Children with ASD Following a Parent-Delivered Narrative Intervention

One of the primary challenges of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the development of Theory of Mind (ToM), which is the ability to attribute mental states to oneself and others. This study examined the effects of a parent-led narrative intervention on the language complexity and story coherence of three school-aged children with ASD. Developed to scaffold social-cognitive development, the six-week intervention asked parent-child dyads to read three storybooks that emphasize various aspects of ToM (e.g., visual perspective-taking, emotion recognition, and false belief understanding). The intervention books were supplemented with a script for parents that instructed them to ask questions and make comments to best facilitate their child’s ToM development.

Parents and their children completed two standardized measures of ToM as well as a Picture Storytelling Task prior to and following the six-week intervention. The stories they told during this task were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for language complexity. Additionally, the stories were blindly scored using a story coherence rubric, which measured the quality of their narratives. Results showed that in addition to their improved scores on ToM measures, all three children improved in specific aspects of language complexity and story coherence following intervention. This demonstrates the benefits of parent-implemented, narrative-based interventions for children with ASD, and reinforces the belief that social-cognition, language complexity, and narrative competence develop in concert.