Deontics at bedtime

A case study of participants’ resources in a directive trajectory involving a mother and her autistic child


  • Gates Henderson Victoria University of Wellington



autism, parent–child interaction, conversation analysis, directives


Directive trajectories are common in parent–child talk as parents attempt to engage their children in household activities. Previous research on families with autistic children has reported that parents have difficulty engaging their children in household activities. The current study analyses the strategies a parent utilizes in negotiating an activity contract with their autistic child. The analyses show that the parent negotiates stances towards autonomy, category-membership-tied activities and social obligations, as well as used embodied conduct. The analyses also show how the child is sensitive to these strategies and actively participates in the directive trajectory. The findings show that both parent and child are active co-constructors of the social relationship in directive trajectories and that the child can strategically counter the variety of directive resources the parent uses.

Author Biography

Gates Henderson, Victoria University of Wellington

Gates Henderson is a PhD student in the School of Psychology at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. In her PhD work, she uses conversation analysis to study the social interaction between parents and their autistic children. Her interests lie in morality/accountability, identity and atypical talk.


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How to Cite

Henderson, G. . (2021). Deontics at bedtime: A case study of participants’ resources in a directive trajectory involving a mother and her autistic child. Research on Children and Social Interaction, 4(2), 168–191.