Previous research has demonstrated that social attention is reduced in school-aged children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) when compared with typical developing (TD) children. However, the majority of studies on this topic focused on computer-based stimuli. How school-aged children with ASD attend to social stimuli during real-life interactions is not well understood. The current exploratory study aims to investigate, under the social motivation and CI-distractor framework, how social attention and verbal exchange change in the presence of objects that are of high interest to children with ASD. Nonparametric analysis revealed that the ASD group spent significantly less time viewing the experimenter's full face than the TD group, and they spent more time speaking than children in the TD group. These provide support for the CI-distractor hypothesis, although future research is needed to confirm the reported pattern of results using an experimental design.
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Thesis advisor: Birmingham, Elina
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