Date Presented 04/21/2023

This systematic review of multidisciplinary literature yielded a comprehensive definition of parent responsiveness to infant cues that OT practitioners can use when communicating with interdisciplinary early intervention teams.

Primary Author and Speaker: Emily Campi

Additional Authors and Speakers: Elizabeth Nye

Contributing Authors: Grace Baranek

Early intervention (EI) occupational therapy practitioners (OTs) are uniquely positioned to address the needs of the entire family related to infant development alongside the multidisciplinary team of providers. Parent responsiveness (PR) to infant cues is important for development across domains (Edmunds et al., 2020; Kellerman et al., 2019) and can be addressed within the OT scope of practice (Boop et al., 2020). However, PR has been defined in myriad and confusing ways, which impairs communication across multidisciplinary team members.

PURPOSE: To establish a comprehensive and coherent definition of PR to infant cues that may promote team communication related to this key element of parenting occupations.

DESIGN: A systematic review of the literature.

METHOD: We searched PubMed, CINAHL Complete, and ProQuest Nursing and Allied Health. Search terms for PR were: responsiveness, sensitivity, synchrony, and attunement. We used Covidence software to organize the review. Inclusion criteria were: studied infants at mean age of 6-18 months, focused primarily on PR, contained a definition of PR, and published in English in a peer-reviewed journal. Two trained study personnel independently reviewed 6,110 article titles and abstracts and 500 full texts to confirm inclusion criteria. We extracted and thematically coded the definitions of PR to establish a comprehensive definition. Thematic analysis of 60 studies has taken place thus far; we expect approximately 200 will be included in the final results.

RESULTS: PR is timely, appropriate, predictable, transactional parent behavior that includes: (a) attention to the child, (b) contingent responses, (c) verbal and physical interaction, (d) effective conflict resolution, and (e) following the child’s lead.

CONCLUSION: OTs have an opportunity to lead their multidisciplinary teams to better understand and apply PR conceptualizations in their assessments and interventions across EI settings.


Boop, Cahill, S. M., Davis, C., Dorsey, J., Gibbs, V., Herr, B., Kearney, K., Liz Griffin Lannigan, E., Metzger, L., Miller, J., Owens, A., Rives, K., Synovec, C., Winistorfer, W. L., & Lieberman, D. (2020). Occupational therapy practice framework: Domain and process fourth edition. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 74(2), 1–87.

Edmunds, S. R., Kover, S. T., & Stone, W. L. (2019). The relation between parent verbal responsiveness and child communication in young children with or at risk for autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Autism Research, 12(5), 715–731.

Kellerman, A. M., Schwichtenberg, A., Abu-Zhaya, R., Miller, M., Young, G. S., & Ozonoff, S. (2020). Dyadic synchrony and responsiveness in the first year: Associations with autism risk. Autism Research, 13(12), 2190–2201.