International Meeting for Autism Research (London, May 15-17, 2008): Peekaboo games with affected 6-month-old infant siblings of children with autism

Peekaboo games with affected 6-month-old infant siblings of children with autism

Friday, May 16, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)
M. Gratier , Psychology, Université Paris Ouest (Nanterre - La Defense), Nanterre, France
E. Devouche , Psychology, Université René Descartes, Paris 5, Boulogne-Billancourt, France
A. Rozga , Psychology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
Background: Mastering the rules of social interactive games by young infants depends largely on their ability to coordinate vocal utterances with motor behaviour (Bruner, 1977). Peekaboo games involve subtly varied repetition on the part of the mother and anticipation on the part of the infant. In Peekaboo play, typically developping 6-month-old infants vocalize in response to relevant gestures (Rome-Flanders & Ricard, 1992), smile at the game climax (Fogel et al., 2006) and show specific sensitivity to timing and structure (Rochat, Querido & Striano, 1999). It is widely acknowledged that social and communication difficulties may be powerful predictors for autism (Adrien et al., 1993 ; Yirmiya et al., 2006). Yet, studies of early signs of autism fail to show clear differences in social and communicative behaviour during face-to-face interaction at 6 months (Rozga, 2008 ; Yirmiya et al., 2006). Objectives: To compare the timing of social interaction in mother-infant Peekaboo play between 6-month-old infants later diagnosed with autism and unaffected 6-month old infants. Methods: 15 6-month-old infants later diagnosed with autism (ADOS at 18, 24 and/or 36 months) were compared with 15 unaffected control infants* using acoustic and frame-by-frame analysis techniques. Results: Our analyses are still underway. But preliminary results show that, compared with unaffected counterparts, infants later diagnosed with autism look less towards the upper portion of their mothers' faces when their faces are uncovered but more when their hands are over their faces. Affected infants also appear to smile slightly less overall. Conclusions: This study suggests that difficulty in anticipating subtle variations in the timing of patterned social exchange may be associated with the development of autism. * Note: This study is based on a large-scale longitudinal study of infant siblings of children with autism [UCLA (P.I. : Marian Sigman) and UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute (PIs : Sally Ozonoff and Sally Rogers)].
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