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Calls to Action

Attention to Social and Nonsocial Events in Children with Autism

State/Province Full: 
United States

This research project will use the Behavioral Attention Assessment Protocol in children with autism to characterize early core attention deficits, and evaluate the ability of this measure to predict the nature and severity of later developing behaviors. Early attention will be assessed using sensory processing, disengagement, orienting, and maintenance of attention. Early preliminary data collected by Dr. Bahrick and her research group suggest that children with autism show overall impairments in sensory processing as well as attention disengagement deficits specific to social events, particularly affectively neutral audiovisual speech. In addition to their measures of early attention, standard diagnostic measures of autism will be implemented to correlate early attentional deficits with symptom severity. This study will allow them to further extend their study and evaluate their assessment protocol for reliability and validity, allowing other clinicians to use it to assess early attentional deficits along with other measures to improve early diagnosis and prediction of behavioral development. What this means for people with autism: Understanding core attention deficits in autism, their origins in infancy, and how they are related to social impairments seen in children with autism is critical to developing earlier and more effective interventions for social and communicative functioning.