University of Kansas researchers have found that certain specific parenting practices are significantly associated with the development of communication and language skills in children with Fragile X syndrome. These same parent behaviors are also associated with the growth of socialization and daily living skills of these children. Parenting even mitigated declines often reported in children with FXS beginning in middle childhood. Fragile X syndrome is the leading genetic cause of autism and other intellectual disabilities.
“Our discovery of the impact of contingent maternal responsivity on child adaptive behavior development underscores the fact that the manifestation of FXS is not just the product of biology, but is ultimately attributable to the dynamic interaction of biology, behavior and environment over lengthy periods of time,” said Steven Warren, distinguished professor of speech-language-hearing: science & disorders.
These parenting behaviors, collectively called maternal responsivity, were observed in a unique ongoing study of 55 children and their mothers in their homes, which followed the children from the ages of 2 to 10 years and is continuing into adolescence.
The positive effect of sustained high levels of maternal responsivity from toddlerhood through middle childhood was true even for children with more autistic symptoms and lower nonverbal cognitive development levels.
The study focused on a set of specific behaviors by the mothers directed to the child such as: commenting on the child’s behavior and/or focus of attention; requesting a verbal response; and verbally “recoding” or restating and/or expanding what a child says.
“Our researchers painstakingly coded each instance of maternal behavior toward their child,” said…