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Author Notes:

Jessica Bradshaw, Department of Psychology, University of South Carolina, 1512 Pendleton St., Barnwell College, Suite 220, Columbia, SC 29208, jbradshaw@sc.edu

We would like to thank the families for their tireless dedication to this research. This study would not have been possible without our research staff including: Ashley Trumbull, Elizabeth Lee, Ansley Reich, Sydney Carpenter, and Hannah Grosman. We also thank Cassandra Hendrix for her assistance with data collection.

Subjects:

Research Funding:

This work was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health NIMH P50 MH100029 and NIMH 2P50 MH100029-6. Additional support provided by the Marcus Foundation, the Whitehead Foundation, and the Georgia Research Alliance.

Keywords:

  • Social Sciences
  • Psychology, Developmental
  • Psychology
  • visual attention
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • infancy
  • social communication
  • neonate
  • VISUAL-ATTENTION
  • 6-MONTH-OLD INFANTS
  • SIBLINGS
  • ENGAGEMENT
  • STABILITY
  • CHILDREN
  • COMMUNICATION
  • EXPLORATION
  • EMERGENCE
  • LANGUAGE

Development of attention from birth to 5 months in infants at risk for autism spectrum disorder

Tools:

Journal Title:

DEVELOPMENT AND PSYCHOPATHOLOGY

Volume:

Volume 32, Number 2

Publisher:

, Pages 491-501

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review

Abstract:

Social-communication skills emerge within the context of rich social interactions, facilitated by an infant's capacity to attend to people and objects in the environment. Disruption in this early neurobehavioral process may decrease the frequency and quality of social interactions and learning opportunities, potentially leading to downstream deleterious effects on social development. This study examined early attention in infant siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who are at risk for social and communication delays. Visual and auditory attention was mapped from age 1 week to 5 months in infants at familial risk for ASD (high risk; N = 41) and low-risk typically developing infants (low risk; N = 39). At 12 months, a subset of participants (N = 40) was administered assessments of social communication and nonverbal cognitive skills. Results revealed that high-risk infants performed lower on attention tasks at 2 and 3 months of age compared to low-risk infants. A significant association between overall attention at 3 months and developmental outcome at 12 months was observed for both groups. These results provide evidence for early vulnerabilities in visual attention for infants at risk for ASD during a period of important neurodevelopmental transition (between 2 and 3 months) when attention has significant implications for social communication and cognitive development.
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