Purpose: Communicative repair requests are a critical social communication skill. Communicative repair requests are important because they provide evidence that the listener (a) is attending the speaker's communicative bids, (b) is monitoring her own comprehension, (c) has strategies for repairing communicative breakdowns, and (d) has skills to successfully repair (Dollaghan, 1987). There were two primary aims of the current project, addressed through two studies. The first aim was to examine 4-year-old children's productions of communicative repair requests as a function of type of insufficient communicative opportunity, either obligatory or non-obligatory, and to examine the relationship between repair requests and performance on a theory of mind (ToM) task. The second aim of the project was to pilot the experimental task (i.e., shared book reading task) among children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and to collect preliminary, descriptive data on repair requests among this population. Method: Study One: Twenty-five typically-developing (TD) 4-year-old children participated. Participants completed two standardized, norm-referenced assessments of their expressive and receptive communication skills and IQ. Participants also completed a criterion-referenced measure of their theory of mind development (ToM task) and a shared book reading task. The shared book reading task served as the experimental medium in which different insufficient communicative opportunities (i.e., obligatory and non-obligatory) were presented. Participants' responses were coded according to a pre-established coding scheme. Study Two: Six children with ASD and with expressive and receptive communication skills and IQ within an average range participated and completed the protocol implemented in Study One. Results: Study One: Participants produced a greater number of repair requests following obligatory compared to non-obligatory communicative opportunities. There were no differences in total repair requests between participants who passed or failed the ToM task. Study Two: The shared book reading task was a feasible method for examining repair requests among 4-year-old children with ASD whose expressive and receptive communication abilities and IQ were within an average range. Descriptive results suggest that participants with ASD who passed the ToM task produced a greater number of repair requests compared to those who failed the ToM task. Conclusion: The function of the adult's utterance (i.e., the insufficient utterance that creates an opportunity for a child to repair) is an influential variable in the production of repair requests. One potential explanation is that the obligatory communicative opportunities may have carried a stronger social expectation to respond in a particular way (i.e., requests for information carry the expectation that the responder will provide information); thus, these types of opportunities may have been more likely to be repaired compared to non-obligatory opportunities. Non-obligatory opportunities allowed more degrees of freedom to whether and how the child responded. Among preschool-age children, the shared book reading task is a naturalistic medium that facilitates the examination of repair requests with a high degree of external and ecological validity. The shared book reading task was a feasible method for examining repair requests among preschool-age children with ASD.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. February 2018. Major: Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences. Advisors: Lizbeth Finestack, Joe Reichle. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 154 pages.
Communicative Repair Requests Produced by Typically-Developing Preschoolers and Preschoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
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