Examining Sustained Attention in Child-Parent Interaction: A Comparative Study of Typically Developing Children and Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

AbstractSustained attention (SA) is a critical skill in which a child is able to maintain visual attention to an object or stimulus. The current study employs head-mounted eye trackers to study the cognitive processes underlying SA by analyzing micro-level behaviors during parent-child social interactions in both typically and atypically developing children. Specifically, we examined the role of parent look, parent hold, and child hold on SA duration. Results show that parent look equally influences SA in both groups, while parent hold is a more critical component of SA for TD children and the child’s own holding is more critical for SA in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Implications of different pathways to maintain SA between typically developing children and children with ASD are discussed.

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