Nonverbal communication in infants at-risk for an eventual diagnosis of autism Public Deposited

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Last Modified
  • March 21, 2019
Creator
  • Reavis, Shaye Benton
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience
Abstract
  • Little is known about the expression of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) during infancy. Identification of autism in infancy is difficult because of a lack of diagnostic clarity for this age-group. Yet, research points to a variety of social and communication impairments in infants later diagnosed with autism. In this project, nonverbal communication delay, a potential early symptom of autism, was empirically investigated in a cohort of infants with behaviors that may place them at-risk for an eventual diagnosis of autism, and a comparison sample of typically-developing infants. Results indicated that there were statistically significant differences between groups in nonverbal communication, namely, for joint attention skills, for a subset of infants tested by one of the examiners. Differences between groups were present, though non-significant, when analyzing the entire sample. Both the entire sample and the subset showed some differences in their pattern of nonverbal communication, with the target group showing weaker joint attention than behavior requesting skills. Issues that may have influenced results, such as heterogeneity, timing and emergence of nonverbal communication development, and an examiner effect, are outlined. The relevance of the findings of group differences in nonverbal communication, particularly joint attention, is discussed.
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  • In Copyright
Advisor
  • Mesibov, Gary B.
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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  • Open access
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