As young children acquire new ways to coordinate actions and represent events, their joint engagement with others is transformed. These transformations are both dependent on and affect the acquisition of language and social understanding. This application's long-term objective is to document typical and atypical trajectories of joint engagement development, especially those taken by young children with developmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). To serve this objective, this competitive renewal application concentrates on auditory joint engagement-the active sharing of sounds with a social partner-during parent- child interactions.
Three specific aims are pursued. First, the typical developmental course of auditory joint engagement will be characterized by observing 60 typically developing (TD) children at 5 time points between 12 and 36 months of age as they interact with their parents. These semi-naturalistic observations will be made using the Communication Play Protocol-Auditory (CPP-A), a modified version of our long-standing CPP observational procedure. The CPP-A generates excellent video records of parent-child communication, including one taken by a wearable headcam that captures the parent's point of view. This study will detail how four types of sounds-child-focused speech, music, animal sounds, and mechanical noises-are responded to, drawn into interactions, and elaborated through gestures and language. Second, the effects of ASD and other developmental disorders (DD) on auditory joint engagement will be assessed by observing 180 children divided into three groups (ASD, DD and TD) in the CPP-A at the time of early diagnosis (18-24 months) and at 36 months. Of particular interest will be how the type of sound affects auditory joint engagement, especially in light of reports that ASD differentially affects apprehension of speech and social sounds. Third, variations in children's auditory joint engagement will be related to the development of language and social understanding to discern how it both reflects and fuels advances in these crucial accomplishments. Fulfilling these aims will provide an unprecedented view of how children react to and share the stream of speech, music, and environmental sounds that surround them and at times are the focus of their interaction with parents. Our findings will both clarify central aspects of communication development and contribute to refining early interventions that seek to ameliorate the pervasive effects of joint attention deficits and aberran auditory reactions in children with developmental disorders.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed project will document how young children share environmental sounds such as speech, music, and mechanical noises with their parents and how this experience influences the early acquisition of language and social understanding. A fuller understanding of auditory aspects of joint engagement will help clarify how communication typically develops and how developmental disorders including autism spectrum disorder can profoundly alter this crucial process. This research is highly relevant to public health efforts to improve early interventions that seek to ameliorate the pervasive effects of join attention deficits and aberrant auditory reactions in children with developmental disorders.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Child Psychopathology and Developmental Disabilities Study Section (CPDD)
Program Officer
Esposito, Layla E
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Georgia State University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Özçal??kan, ?eyda; Adamson, Lauren B; Dimitrova, Nevena et al. (2018) Do Parents Model Gestures Differently When Children's Gestures Differ? J Autism Dev Disord 48:1492-1507
Özçal??kan, ?eyda; Adamson, Lauren B; Dimitrova, Nevena et al. (2017) Early gesture provides a helping hand to spoken vocabulary development for children with autism, Down syndrome and typical development. J Cogn Dev 18:325-337
Hasni, Anita A; Adamson, Lauren B; Williamson, Rebecca A et al. (2017) Adding sound to theory of mind: Comparing children's development of mental-state understanding in the auditory and visual realms. J Exp Child Psychol 164:239-249
Özçal??kan, ?eyda; Adamson, Lauren B; Dimitrova, Nevena (2016) Early deictic but not other gestures predict later vocabulary in both typical development and autism. Autism 20:754-63
Özçali?kan, ?eyda; Adamson, Lauren B; Dimitrova, Nevena et al. (2016) Baby sign but not spontaneous gesture predicts later vocabulary in children with Down Syndrome. J Child Lang 43:948-63
Suma, Katharine; Adamson, Lauren B; Bakeman, Roger et al. (2016) After Early Autism Diagnosis: Changes in Intervention and Parent-Child Interaction. J Autism Dev Disord 46:2720-33
Adamson, Lauren B; Bakeman, Roger (2016) The Communication Play Protocol: Capturing Variations in Language Development. Perspect ASHA Spec Interest Groups 1:164-171
Dimitrova, Nevena; Özçal??kan, ?eyda; Adamson, Lauren B (2016) Parents' Translations of Child Gesture Facilitate Word Learning in Children with Autism, Down Syndrome and Typical Development. J Autism Dev Disord 46:221-231
Adamson, Lauren B; Bakeman, Roger; Brandon, Benjamin (2015) How parents introduce new words to young children: The influence of development and developmental disorders. Infant Behav Dev 39:148-58
Adamson, Lauren B; Bakeman, Roger; Deckner, Deborah F et al. (2014) From interactions to conversations: the development of joint engagement during early childhood. Child Dev 85:941-955

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