Gaze Toward Naturalistic Social Scenes by Individuals With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Implications for Augmentative and Alternative Communication Designs Purpose A striking characteristic of the social communication deficits in individuals with autism is atypical patterns of eye contact during social interactions. We used eye-tracking technology to evaluate how the number of human figures depicted and the presence of sharing activity between the human figures in still photographs influenced visual ... Research Article
Research Article  |   May 17, 2018
Gaze Toward Naturalistic Social Scenes by Individuals With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Implications for Augmentative and Alternative Communication Designs
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jiali Liang
    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park
  • Krista Wilkinson
    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park
    E. K. Shriver Center of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Jiali Liang: jiali.liang.aac@gmail.com
  • Editor-in-Chief: Sean Redmond
    Editor-in-Chief: Sean Redmond×
  • Editor: Geralyn Timler
    Editor: Geralyn Timler×
Article Information
Augmentative & Alternative Communication / Special Populations / Genetic & Congenital Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   May 17, 2018
Gaze Toward Naturalistic Social Scenes by Individuals With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Implications for Augmentative and Alternative Communication Designs
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, May 2018, Vol. 61, 1157-1170. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-L-17-0331
History: Received September 3, 2017 , Revised November 12, 2017 , Accepted December 20, 2017
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, May 2018, Vol. 61, 1157-1170. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-L-17-0331
History: Received September 3, 2017; Revised November 12, 2017; Accepted December 20, 2017

Purpose A striking characteristic of the social communication deficits in individuals with autism is atypical patterns of eye contact during social interactions. We used eye-tracking technology to evaluate how the number of human figures depicted and the presence of sharing activity between the human figures in still photographs influenced visual attention by individuals with autism, typical development, or Down syndrome. We sought to examine visual attention to the contents of visual scene displays, a growing form of augmentative and alternative communication support.

Method Eye-tracking technology recorded point-of-gaze while participants viewed 32 photographs in which either 2 or 3 human figures were depicted. Sharing activities between these human figures are either present or absent. The sampling rate was 60 Hz; that is, the technology gathered 60 samples of gaze behavior per second, per participant. Gaze behaviors, including latency to fixate and time spent fixating, were quantified.

Results The overall gaze behaviors were quite similar across groups, regardless of the social content depicted. However, individuals with autism were significantly slower than the other groups in latency to first view the human figures, especially when there were 3 people depicted in the photographs (as compared with 2 people). When participants' own viewing pace was considered, individuals with autism resembled those with Down syndrome.

Conclusion The current study supports the inclusion of social content with various numbers of human figures and sharing activities between human figures into visual scene displays, regardless of the population served. Study design and reporting practices in eye-tracking literature as it relates to autism and Down syndrome are discussed.

Supplemental Material https://doi.org/10.23641/asha.6066545

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