Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Psychology

Sub-Department

College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Jane Roberts

Abstract

This dissertation is comprised of two manuscripts focused on early social and nonsocial attention in children at-risk for developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD): infants with fragile X syndrome (FXS) and infants with an older sibling diagnosed with autism (ASIBs). Each manuscript will present original research: the first will consist of a crosssectional and longitudinal examination of attention to objects in infants with FXS and infant ASIBs parsed apart by their ASD diagnostic outcomes in comparison to a group of typically developing (TD) infants, and how developmental trajectories of object attention predict later ASD symptom severity and diagnostic outcomes. The second will extend this line of research by examining cross-sectional and longitudinal trajectories of social and nonsocial attention in these at-risk groups parsed apart by their diagnostic outcomes as compared to TD infants, and how these trajectories impact later ASD symptom severity and diagnostic outcomes. These manuscripts will address the extent to which early social and nonsocial attention impairments differentiate these at-risk groups for developing ASD prior to the typical age of diagnosis and how trajectories of social and nonsocial attention are linked to ASD symptomology and outcomes. The results of these studies have implications for informing early diagnostic efforts, identifying early behavioral phenotypes, and in the development of syndrome specific interventions.

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