Social Attention in Young Typically Developing and At-Risk Children: Eye Tracking Paradigms and Implications for Understanding Developmental Trajectories
AdvisorMastergeorge, Ann M.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe adaptive trait of perceiving and apportioning eye movements and gaze behaviors forms one of the basic foundations of social cognition in infants. Thus, diminished eye gaze in individuals is known to be an early behavioral risk marker for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Research studies in ASD have shown numerous advances; however, the field still lacks a systematic approach for integrating the behavioral and biological markers that can be used in community settings for better identification, timely access to diagnosis, and the implementation of evidence-based interventions. The aim of the first two papers was to analyze the longitudinal gaze behaviors of young infants and toddlers during an eye-tracking paradigm and the relations to joint attention and language development skills. The aim of the third paper was to classify any disparities in the age of ASD diagnosis. Together, this dissertation study examined the red flags associated with gaze behaviors and the age at ASD diagnosis in order to inform early identification and diagnostic practices for ASD. In addition, methodological techniques for examining longitudinal gaze patterns during the early years of development are discussed. These investigations further demonstrate the importance of early identification of ASD for infant siblings of children with ASD, highlighting the heterogeneous symptomology and diagnostic challenges associated with the disorder. Improved efforts toward earlier identification will allow practitioners to tailor intervention services that provide the most optimal results for individuals with ASD. Overall, the study contributes empirical knowledge regarding typically developing and infants at-risk's preferences for social attention, with direct implications for endophenotypic markers for young children with ASD. Furthermore, despite the increased awareness of ASD, the child's age at first ASD diagnosis remains delayed, resulting in a need for inquiry of the disparities that may exist due to individual and sociodemographic factors.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Family & Consumer Sciences