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Parent responsivity and child communication in FXS (Potter et al., 2024)

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posted on 2024-02-26, 15:17 authored by Sarah Nelson Potter, Danielle Harvey, Audra Sterling, Leonard Abbeduto

Purpose: Past research shows that parentally responsive behavior toward the child positively influences language development in both neurotypical children and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including those with fragile X syndrome (FXS); however, most studies have focused exclusively on the mother–child relationship. The current study examined relationships between parent behavior (i.e., responsivity and behavior management) and child language performance in both mother–child and father–child interactions, as well as relationships between child characteristics and both parent behavior and child language.

Method: Participants were 23 families of young boys with FXS between 3 and 7 years of age. Mothers and fathers independently completed questionnaires assessing child characteristics and separately engaged in 12-min play-based interactions with their child via telehealth. One parent also completed a comprehensive interview assessing child adaptive behavior. Video recordings of the parent–child interactions were transcribed and coded for parent and child behavior, and measures of parent and child language were obtained from the transcripts.

Results: Mothers and fathers used similar rates of responsive behaviors during parent–child interactions, and parental responsivity was positively associated with some aspects of child language performance (i.e., talkativeness and lexical diversity). Parental behavior, however, was not associated with syntactic complexity. Older children and children with higher levels of adaptive behavior had parents who used higher rates of responsive behaviors. Fathers used higher rates of behavior management strategies compared to mothers, and this type of parent behavior was not associated with child language.

Conclusion: Overall, this study provides evidence that interventions focused on increasing parental responsiveness would be beneficial for families of children with FXS and that these interventions should be delivered early given the association between responsivity and child age.

Supplemental Material S1. Parent-child interaction coding manual.

Potter, S. N., Harvey, D., Sterling, A., & Abbeduto, L. (2024). Parental responsivity and child communication during mother–child and father–child interactions in fragile X syndrome. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 67(3), 939–959.


This research was supported by the UC Davis MIND Institute Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center, funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Grant P50 HD103526 (principal investigator: Leonard Abbeduto). This research was also supported by the UC Davis MIND Institute Dorothy Ross Graduate Student Research Award and a summer fellowship from the UC Davis Human Development Graduate Group.