Dyadic Visual Attention during Interactions of Infant Siblings and Their Parents in Relation to the Child's Attention Disengagement and Clinical Symptoms

Oral Presentation
Saturday, May 12, 2018: 10:30 AM
Willem Burger Zaal (de Doelen ICC Rotterdam)
A. Radkowska1, A. Niedzwiecka2, S. Ramotowska3, A. Malinowska3, R. Kawa3, E. Pisula3 and P. Tomalski4, (1)University of Warsaw, Faculty of Psychology, Warsaw, Poland, (2)Health and Rehabilitation Psychology Unit, University of Warsaw, Faculty of Psychology, Warsaw, Poland, (3)University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland, (4)Psychology, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland

Recently, efforts have been made to investigate the early precursors of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by studying infants at familial risk for autism (HR). Studying early parent-infant interactions may give insight into the development of this disorder (Wallace & Rogers, 2010). Studies of global characteristics of parent-infant interactions of infant siblings showed that the quality of early dyadic interactions is associated with later diagnostic outcomes in ASD (Wan et al. 2012,2013).

Early development of infant visual attention during social interactions is associated with a range of developmental outcomes in typical and atypical populations. In typical development, dyadic infant-mother mutual attention during free play predicts later efficiency of attention disengagement (Nied┼║wiecka et al. 2015). HR Infants at 14 months of age differ from low-risk (LR) controls in attention disengagement skills, which predicts subsequent ASD diagnosis at 36 months (Elsabbagh et al., 2013).


This study examined the changes between individual and dyadic visual attention behavior during parent-infant interaction in HR and LR groups, when infants were 10, 14 and 24 months. The following analyses investigated the associations between dyadic states of attention at 10, 14 and 24 months and both concurrent and subsequent attention disengagement and clinical symptoms.


As a part of a longitudinal Polish Autism Study of Infant Siblings we analyzed 6-min-long episodes of free parent-infant interactions when infants were 10, 14 and 24 months and coded them in terms of visual attention distribution, (32 HR siblings, 22 LR siblings). We measured the efficiency of attention disengagement using the gap-and-overlap-task and autism symptoms with ADOS-2 at 14, 24 and 36 months. At the conference, we will present the complete dataset including the analysis of visual attention during interactions at 24 months and clinical outcomes at 36 months.


Although we expected a decrease in the infant attentiveness to the parent in the HR group between 10 and 14 months (Wan et al., 2013), we did not find it in our sample. At both visits at 10 and 14 months HR infants spent more time looking at the parent manipulating an object and less time looking at the parent and at objects alone in comparison to LR siblings. Parents of HR infants spent less time looking at them than parents of LR children at both time points.

Looking at dyadic level of behaviors, we did not find significant group differences in dyadic attention at 10 and 14 months of age. However, dyadic mutual as well as parallel attention during interactions at 10 months were negatively correlated with ADOS-2 scores at 24 months. Additionally, in the HR group, the time spent in mutual attention during interaction at 10 months correlated negatively with results in attention disengagement task at 14 months.


Dyadic measures of visual attention during infant-parent interactions already at 10 months may constitute an early predictor of later outcomes in HR siblings. Our results suggest the crucial role of the early social interactive environment for visual attention development in atypically developing children.