2013 Fieldwork Reports

Gail Fox Adams (New Delhi, India)

What Basic-Skills Training in Autism Offers Language Teachers

Gail Fox Adams (UCLA)

Brief overview

This study will describe an India-based, parent-child training program for autism, the core strategies that trainers teach parents to use with their children and how they relate to the what is known about the neurobiology of language acquisition and socialization. It uses a qualitative approach to link the core strategies to: vignettes about children’s emerging participation in program routines and social interactions and participants’ training experiences.


This study, set in a non-governmental organization in New Delhi, India, uses qualitative methods to describe three core strategies that are taught in a parent-child training program (PCTP) for autism in order to enhance children’s basic skills1. In particular, it will link participants’ experiences with the attainment, integration and mastery of these strategies to what is known about the neurobiology of early language acquisition. Participant observation and semi-structured interviews, modeled after an abbreviated version of the Ecocultural Family Interview (Weisner et al, 1997), were/will be used to determine strategies of the program from PCTP staff and parent perspectives, as well as the how these are accomplished and why they are valued. Additionally, assessments and questionnaires (i.e. demographics, Daily Routines, Five Minute Speech Sample, Parent Expectancies Scale, Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale) were/will be used to describe children’s communication and socialization skills, the quality of the parent-child relationship, and the families’ backgrounds, daily routines and expectations of PCTP. Analyses will link the program’s core strategies to what is known about the neurobiology of language in the areas of attentional-motivation mechanisms, pattern-matching, and opportunities for social interaction (Schumann, forthcoming). It then will consider the fit of the training to families’ needs, resources and values that are enacted in their daily routines and that, therefore, dynamically affect their application of learned skills (Weisner, 2002). Ultimately, parents’ abilities to provide their children with skills that increase their inclusion in everyday social routines will facilitate learning in general and language learning specifically, as well as child well-being and well-becoming (Frones, 2007; Ochs & Scheffelin, 2011; Schutlz & Erickson, 1984).