Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Type




Director of Thesis

Jane E. Roberts, Ph.D.

Second Reader

Elizabeth Will, Ph.D.


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity behaviors that are inconsistent with developmental age. Children with fragile X syndrome (FXS), a genetic neurodevelopmental disorder, are often diagnosed with comorbid ADHD (53-59% of males with FXS). Despite the prevalence of ADHD in FXS, little is known about the early manifestation of ADHD. The current project aims to explore group differences in play behaviors between children with FXS and typically developing (TD) children as well as the correlation of infant play behavior and heart activity to future ADHD attention outcomes. Participants included male children with FXS and male TD children assessed at 12 months of age and again during preschool years. During infancy, play behavior and heart activity were measured during a free play task. Cognitive ability was determined using the Mullen Scales of Early Learning (MSEL). The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) was used to assess attention problems during preschool years. Groups did not significantly differ in play behavior between infants with FXS and TD infants, F(1,40) = 0.40, p = 0.533. Although groups significantly differed in attention problems, F(1,41) = 34.53, p < 0.001, results indicate that play behavior during infancy was not correlated to future attention problems for infants with FXS, r = -.32, p = .217. Heart activity was also not correlated to future attention problems for infants with FXS, r = -.32, p = .489. One of the largest limitations is this study was the lack of statistical power.

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