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Autism. 2008 Sep;12(5):473-85. doi: 10.1177/1362361308094504.

Visual disengagement in the infant siblings of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

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  • 1University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL 33146, USA.


Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are impaired in visually disengaging attention in both social and non-social contexts. These impairments may, in subtler form, also affect the infant siblings of children with ASD (ASD-sibs). We investigated patterns of visual attention (gazing) in 6-month-old ASD-sibs (n=17) and the siblings of typically developing children (COMP-sibs: n=17) during the Face-to-Face/Still-Face Protocol (FFSF), in which parents are sequentially responsive, non-responsive, and responsive to their infants. Throughout the protocol, ASD-sibs shifted their gaze to and from their parents' faces less frequently than did COMP-sibs. The mean durations of ASD-sibs' gazes away from their parents' faces were longer than those of COMP-sibs. ASD-sibs and COMP-sibs did not differ in the mean durations of gazes at their parents' faces. In sum, ASD-sibs showed no deficits in visual interest to their parents' faces, but greater interest than COMP-sibs in non-face stimuli.

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