Authors: Casenhiser DM, Binns A, McGill F, Morderer O, Shanker SG
Title: Measuring and Supporting Language Function for Children with Autism: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial of a Social-Interaction-Based Therapy
Source: Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 2015 45(3): 846-857
Year: 2015
Research Design: Randomised Controlled Trial
Rating Score: 05/10
This rating is confirmed
Eligibility specified - Y
Random allocation - Y
Concealed allocation - N
Baseline comparability - Y
Blind subjects - N
Blind therapists - N
Blind assessors - Y
Adequate follow-up - N
Intention-to-treat analysis - N
Between-group comparisons - Y
Point estimates and variability - Y

In a report of the effectiveness of MEHRIT, a social-interaction-based intervention for autism, Casenhiser et al. (Autism 17(2):220-241, 2013) failed to find a significant advantage for language development in the treatment group using standardized language assessments. We present the results from a re-analysis of their results to illustrate the importance of measuring communicative language acts (formally called "speech acts"). Reanalysis confirmed that children in the MEHRIT group outperformed the community treatment group on measures of MLUm, number of utterances produced, and various speech act categories. The study underscores the importance of functional language measures in guiding and evaluating treatment for children with autism, and suggests that MEHRIT is effective in improving children's use of language during parent-child interactions.

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