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Look at Mommy: Attention-Related Communication in Mothers of Children at Risk for Autism

Jakubowski, Karen Patricia (2011) Look at Mommy: Attention-Related Communication in Mothers of Children at Risk for Autism. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Attentional difficulties are evident in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD; Landry & Bryson, 2004). Subtle atypicalities in attention are also apparent among later-born siblings of children with ASD (themselves at heightened biological risk for an ASD diagnosis; high-risk toddlers; HR), even those who are not eventually diagnosed with ASD (e.g., Merin et al., 2007). Mothers of children with ASD may modify child-directed communication to direct and maintain the child's attention (e.g., Adamson et al., 2001), and this pattern may generalize to communication with later-born HR infants. In light of this evidence, the present study explored patterns of child-directed communication in mothers of 18-month-old HR toddlers and mothers of same-age later-born toddlers with no family history of ASD (low-risk toddlers; LR), focusing particularly on the production of attention-related communication (i.e., communication focusing on capturing, directing, and maintaining children's attention and/or actions) and compared HR and LR toddlers' responses to maternal attention-related communication. Although both groups of mothers displayed relatively similar patterns of attention-related communication, mothers of HR toddlers produced significantly more utterances that involved attentionally salient words. Additionally, HR toddlers were less likely to respond to attention-related communication. In general, these findings suggest that having an older child with ASD may influence maternal behavior with later-born children, even when those children do not themselves necessarily manifest obvious ASD symptomatology. They also highlight the need for further research on dyadic interactions between mothers and HR infants.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Jakubowski, Karen
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairIverson, Jana Mjiverson@pitt.eduJIVERSON
Committee MemberBrownell, Celiabrownell@pitt.eduBROWNELL
Committee MemberWozniak, Robert
Committee MemberCampbell, Susan Bsbcamp@pitt.eduSBCAMP
Date: 2 May 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 18 April 2011
Approval Date: 2 May 2011
Submission Date: 19 April 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
David C. Frederick Honors College
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: ASD; child-directed speech; attention-related communication; high-risk siblings
Other ID:, etd-04192011-095607
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:39
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:41


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