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Title page for ETD etd-06172005-143903

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Turner, Lauren M.
URN etd-06172005-143903
Title Social and nonsocial orienting in young children with autism, developmental disorders, and typical development
Degree PhD
Department Psychology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Wendy L. Stone Committee Chair
Megan Saylor Committee Member
Patti van Eys Committee Member
Paul Yoder Committee Member
Tedra Walden Committee Member
  • autism
  • social orienting
  • social development
  • language development
  • joint attention
Date of Defense 2005-05-27
Availability unrestricted
A measure of social and nonsocial orienting, the Dyadic Orienting Test (DOT), was developed for use with young children. Using this measure, social and nonsocial orienting impairments in autism were investigated. The relations between orienting behaviors and joint attention, expressive language, and severity of autism symptoms were also examined. Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD; n = 34) and developmental delays (DD; n =18) under 42 months of age participated. Typically developing children between 12 and 24 months of age (n = 21) participated. Psychometric properties of the DOT were examined with the total sample revealing strong interobserver reliability and internal consistency. Subgroups matched on mental age and expressive language age were compared on several areas of DOT performance. Results revealed that children with ASD responded to a smaller proportion of items and required more trials to orient than control groups across social and nonsocial dimensions of the DOT. Group x dimension interactions were not statistically significant. No group differences were found for latency to orient for either dimension. Within the ASD group, total DOT scores were associated with responding to joint attention, expressive language, and autism severity. Social orienting was also associated with autism severity, while nonsocial orienting was associated with responding to joint attention and expressive language. Results suggest that very young children with autism demonstrate global impairments in orienting, rather than specific social impairments and suggest the possible impact of orienting impairments on the development of language skills and autism symptoms.
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