healthcare professionals, autism spectrum disorders, parent training programme, speech act analysis, indirect and direct speech acts, interaction coaching
Background: There is evidence indicating that parent training programmes including interaction coaching of parents of children with ASD can increase parental responsiveness, promote language development and social interaction skills in children with ASD. However, there is a lack of research exploring precisely how healthcare professionals use language in interaction coaching.
Aims: To identify the speech acts of healthcare professionals during individual video-recorded interaction coaching sessions of a Hanen-influenced parent training programme with parents of children with ASD.
Methods and Procedures: This retrospective study used speech act analysis. Healthcare professional participants included two speech-language therapists [SLTs] and one occupational therapist [OT]. Sixteen videos were transcribed and a speech act analysis was conducted to identify the form and functions of the language used by the healthcare professionals. Descriptive statistics provided frequencies and percentages for the different speech acts used across the sixteen videos.
Outcomes and Results: Six types of speech acts used by the healthcare professionals during coaching sessions were identified. These speech acts were, in order of frequency: instructing, modelling, suggesting, commanding, commending, and affirming. The healthcare professionals were found to tailor their interaction coaching to the learning needs of the parents. A pattern was observed in which more direct speech acts were used in instances where indirect speech acts did not achieve the intended response.
Conclusions and Implications: The study provides an insight into the nature of interaction coaching provided by healthcare professionals during a parent training programme. The study identifies the types of language used during interaction coaching. It also highlights additional important aspects of interaction coaching such as the ability of healthcare professionals to adjust the directness of the coaching in order to achieve the intended parental response to the child’s interaction. The findings of the study may be used to increase the awareness of healthcare professionals about the types of speech acts used during interaction coaching as well as the manner in which coaching sessions are conducted.