This study used a prospective longitudinal design to examine the early developmental pathways that underlie language growth in infants at high risk (n = 50) and low risk (n = 34) for autism spectrum disorder in the first 18 months of life. While motor imitation and responding to joint attention (RJA) have both been found to predict expressive language in children with autism spectrum disorder and those with typical development, the longitudinal relation between these capacities has not yet been identified. As hypothesized, results revealed that 15-month RJA mediated the association between 12-month motor imitation and 18-month expressive vocabulary, even after controlling for earlier levels of RJA and vocabulary. These results provide new information about the developmental sequencing of skills relevant to language growth that may inform future intervention efforts for children at risk for language delay or other developmental challenges.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health