Mastery motivation in children with complex communication needs: longitudinal data analysis

Kara F. Medeiros, Cynthia J. Cress, Matthew C. Lambert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study compared longitudinal changes in mastery motivation during parent-child free play for 37 children with complex communication needs. Mastery motivation manifests as a willingness to work hard at tasks that are challenging, which is an important quality to overcoming the challenges involved in successful expressive communication using AAC. Unprompted parent-child play episodes were identified in three assessment sessions over an 18-month period and coded for nine categories of mastery motivation in social and object play. All of the object-oriented mastery motivation categories and one social mastery motivation category showed an influence of motor skills after controlling for receptive language. Object play elicited significantly more of all of the object-focused mastery motivation categories than social play, and social play elicited more of one type of social-focused mastery motivation behavior than object play. Mastery motivation variables did not differ significantly over time for children. Potential physical and interpersonal influences on mastery motivation for parents and children with complex communication needs are discussed, including broadening the procedures and definitions of mastery motivation beyond object-oriented measurements for children with complex communication needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)208-218
Number of pages11
JournalAAC: Augmentative and Alternative Communication
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • cerebral palsy
  • children
  • complex communication needs
  • Mastery motivation
  • toddler

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Speech and Hearing


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