Gaze Response to Dyadic Bids at 2 Years Related to Outcomes at 3 Years in Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Subtyping Analysis
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Variability in attention towards direct gaze and child-directed speech may contribute to heterogeneity of clinical presentation in toddlers with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). To evaluate this hypothesis, we clustered sixty-five 20-month-old toddlers with ASD based on their visual responses to dyadic cues for engagement, identifying three subgroups. Subsequently, we compared social, language, and adaptive functioning of these subgroups at 3 years of age. The cluster displaying limited attention to social scenes in general exhibited poor outcome at 3 years; the cluster displaying good attention to the scene and to the speaker’s mouth was verbal and high functioning at 3 years. Analysis of visual responses to dyadic cues may provide a clinically meaningful approach to identifying early predictors of outcome.
KeywordsAutism Eye-tracking Visual attention Heterogeneity Eye contact Child-directed speech
The study was supported by the National Alliance for Autism Research Foundation, Autism Speaks Foundation, NICHD ACE Grant P50 MH081756-0, NIMH Grants 1R03MH086732, and R03 MH092618-01A1. We would also like to thank Celine Saulnier, Amanda Steiner, Karyn Bailey, and Rhea Paul for their contribution to the sample characterization as well as Jessica Bradshaw, Mairin Meltvedt, Grace Chen, Marika Coffman, Alexandra Dowd, Eugenia Gisin, and Jessica Reed for assistance in data collection. We wish to express our appreciation to the families and their children for their time and participation.
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