Eye-gaze profiles of children with autism spectrum disorders in relation to fast-mapping and visual search abilities
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Children learn new words through a process termed fast-mapping, which involves pairing novel words and objects after minimal exposure (Carey & Bartlett, 1978). There have been studies conducted to understand the fast-mapping processes in children with typical development (TD); however, this phenomenon has received less attention for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In addition, no studies were found that investigated the eye-gaze patterns and fast-mapping abilities of children with ASD and TD. Furthermore, research involving visual search tasks has suggested that children with ASD demonstrate superior visual search skills when compared to children with TD (O’Riordan, Plaisted, Driver, & Baron-Cohen, 2001). The purpose of this study was two-fold: (1) to compare the eye-gaze patterns of children with ASD and TD in relation to fast-mapping; and (2) to compare the visual search abilities of children with ASD and TD. Ten children diagnosed with ASD and twenty children with TD, ages 5-7 participated. Participants were matched on nonverbal intelligence and receptive vocabulary skills. The Tobii 1750 eye-tracking system was used to capture eye-tracking measures. Overall, the results of Study 1 revealed that children with ASD were able to fast-map novel images and text at a similar rate to children with TD, despite having fewer fixations and shorter total fixation duration on novel stimuli. Study 2 revealed that children with ASD had similar visual search patterns as compared to children with TD. Children with ASD demonstrated more errors when locating targets but exhibited similar reaction times compared to children with TD. In summary, it appears that for the participants in these studies, children with ASD had different eye-gaze patterns for fast-mapping tasks and similar visual search skills when compared to TD children.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Wichita State University, College of Health Professions, Dept. of Communication Sciences and Disorders
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