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This study investigated the visual attention characteristics in 125 children between 18 and 24 months of age: 50 with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), 25 with developmental delays (DD), and 50 with typical development (TD). Systematic observation was used to examine visual attention within behavior samples. There were significant group differences on 8 of the ANOVA omnibus tests. The Dunnet T3 post-hoc tests detected significant differences between the ASD group and the DD and TD groups on 4 measures and between the ASD and TD group on 2 additional measures. The amount of times the children looked at a person's face as well as the duration and frequency measures of the children's ability to shift attention from a target object to a person's face were the most distinguishing visual attention characteristics among the 3 groups based on effect sizes. The findings of this study have important implications for continued research on the role visual attention can play in early identification of very young children with autism spectrum disorders.
A Thesis Submitted to the Department of Communication Disorders in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science.
Includes bibliographical references.
Florida State University
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