Mother–child interaction in families of children with autism: Interpersonal dyadic processes

Yael Rozenblatt-Perkal, Anat Zaidman-Zait

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Research examining parent-child interactions in families with ASD children has mainly focused on the behaviors of either the parent or the child and examined their associations with the child's developmental outcomes. Interpersonal theory conceptualizes parent-child behaviors at the dyadic level of agency (i.e., levels of dominance behaviors). The study examined dyadic mother-child interpersonal behavioral patterns for children with and without ASD. Using the dynamic system approach, we measured the content and structure of moment-to moment interpersonal levels of dominance behaviors over the course of semi-structured joint activity. We also examined the relations between children's externalizing, internalizing, prosocial behaviors and dyadic mother-child interpersonal dominance behaviors. Method: Sample included 83 mothers and their three- to six-year-old children, 41 children with ASD and 42 typically developing (TD) children. Mothers completed questionnaires and were observed interacting with their children. We conducted hierarchical multiple regressions to examined variability in dyadic interpersonal agentic behaviors, controlling for maternal educational level and family income. Results: Mother-TD dyads demonstrated increased mutual engagement, dyadic flexibility, and decreased mother high dominance-child low dominance behaviors. Children's behaviors were associated with dyadic agentic behavior patterns. Prosocial behaviors were associated with increased dyadic flexibility and complementarity-agency, albeit only in mother-ASD dyads. Conclusions: Findings highlight the role of interpersonal social processes for ASD children and their mothers. The flexibility and complementary of mother-child interpersonal agency is at least partially a function of children's behaviors and ASD. When ASD children express dominance, mothers generally hand over some control.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101689
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • ASD
  • Agency
  • Interpersonal theory
  • Mother-child interactions
  • State space grid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Mother–child interaction in families of children with autism: Interpersonal dyadic processes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this