Measuring social communication in the context of early intervention studies

Lab members involved: Kyle Frost, Kaylin Russell, Genna Koehn, and Brooke Ingersoll

Two projects looked at different ways of measuring child social communication. In the context of early intervention studies – our lab’s main focus – it is important to know whether children respond positively to treatment.

One study, using a measure called the Brief Observation of Social Communication Change (BOSCC; Grzadzinski et. al, 2016), investigated whether the BOSCC could be applied to a new context: a home snack routine. We found that rating home snack routines was feasible and had good measurement properties. Most importantly, the measure captured change in child social communication behaviors. Applying measures of child social communication across contexts may provide a more accurate estimate of intervention response and help capture context-specific changes in social communication.

Another study examined “thin-slice ratings” of social communication skills during a parent-child interaction. These are ratings by untrained individuals of brief, 2-minute video clips. We found that the thin slice ratings had good measurement properties and were related to other similar measures. However, they did not change over time. These findings suggest that thin-slice ratings may provide a stable estimate of child social communication skills that tracks with other measures of child developmental functioning.

Relevant citations:

  • Frost, K., Koehn, G., Russell, K.,& Ingersoll, B. (2019). Measuring child social communication across contexts: Similarities and differences across play and snack routines. Autism Research, 12, 636-644. doi:10.1002/aur.2077
  • Frost, K., Russell, K., & Ingersoll, B. (2020). Using thin slice ratings to measure social communication in children with autism spectrum disorder. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 74, 1750-9467. doi:10.1016/j.rasd.2020.101550.