Development of Face Processing in Toddlers with Autism: Temporal and Spatial Patterns of Attention
This project will examine face scanning patterns, sensitivity to direct gaze, and the development of other visual processes in toddlers with ASD, toddlers with developmental delays (DD), and typically developing toddlers (TD). While many studies have focused on typical development of these skills in the above populations in the first year of life, there is limited evidence regarding their progression in the second year. To address this issue, the researcher will determine whether 18 to 24-month-old toddlers with ASD show impairments in any of these targeted skill areas and evaluate whether these deficits are specific to ASD by comparing them to a group of typically developing children and children with developmental delays not associated with autism. Several types of visual cognition paradigms will be employed, and visual responses will be recorded using cutting-edge eye-tracking technology. Significance: The proposed project will lead to identification of the areas of strength and impairment in toddlers with ASD and inform the development of improved ascertainment tasks suitable for detecting abnormalities in 0 to 18-month-olds. The findings of this study could also highlight key areas of visual cognition suitable for early intervention.