Effects of Adult Interaction Style on Conversational Behavior in Students with Severe Communication Problems Children with severe communication handicaps such as autism and mental retardation often experience significant problems in conversational interactions. These problems are typically attributed to the well-documented social, linguistic, and cognitive deficits of the children. Some authors have suggested, however, that the interaction behavior of the conversational partner also affects the ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 1986
Effects of Adult Interaction Style on Conversational Behavior in Students with Severe Communication Problems
 
Author Notes
  • Patricia L. Mirenda is an assistant professor in the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders, University of Nebraska, 204 Barkley Center, Lincoln, NE 68583-0732. Requests for reprints may be sent to her at this address. Anne M. Donnellan is an associate professor in the Department of Studies in Behavioral Disabilities, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53703. Reprints may be obtained from the first author at 204F Barkley Memorial Center, Lincoln, NE 68683-0732.
    Patricia L. Mirenda is an assistant professor in the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders, University of Nebraska, 204 Barkley Center, Lincoln, NE 68583-0732. Requests for reprints may be sent to her at this address. Anne M. Donnellan is an associate professor in the Department of Studies in Behavioral Disabilities, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53703. Reprints may be obtained from the first author at 204F Barkley Memorial Center, Lincoln, NE 68683-0732.×
Article Information
Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 1986
Effects of Adult Interaction Style on Conversational Behavior in Students with Severe Communication Problems
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, April 1986, Vol. 17, 126-141. doi:10.1044/0161-1461.1702.126
History: Received November 9, 1984 , Accepted May 14, 1985
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, April 1986, Vol. 17, 126-141. doi:10.1044/0161-1461.1702.126
History: Received November 9, 1984; Accepted May 14, 1985

Children with severe communication handicaps such as autism and mental retardation often experience significant problems in conversational interactions. These problems are typically attributed to the well-documented social, linguistic, and cognitive deficits of the children. Some authors have suggested, however, that the interaction behavior of the conversational partner also affects the children's spontaneous verbal output. This study investigated this issue using a small group design to compare the verbal output of adolescent subjects with autism or mental retardation with adults who used two different sets of verbal behaviors during conversational interactions. The results indicated that when the adults used a facilitative rather than a directive (or question-based) style, subjects initiated a significantly higher proportion of main topics and produced significantly higher proportions of both spontaneous comments and questions in their conversational exchanges. They produced higher proportions of direct answers to adult questions with directive adults. The implications of these results for language assessment of autistic and retarded children as well as for future intervention and research efforts are discussed.

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