Date of Award

Fall 2008

Project Type


Program or Major

Communication Sciences and Disorders Early Childhood Intervention

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Stephen Calculator


The purpose of this project was to determine what social and communication patterns could be detected early in infants who are later diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Investigators carried out a qualitative analysis collecting descriptive data through retrospective video analysis addressing two main areas of development in infants later diagnosed with ASD: (a) social interactions, and (b) communication and language development. The intent of this research project was to highlight specific social communication behaviors: (1) eye gaze, (2) response to name, (3) communicative forms (both vocalizations and gestures), and (4) communicative intent & function (behavior regulations, social interaction, and joint attention). The following behaviors carried the most relevance surrounding a later autism spectrum diagnosis: lack of overall use of vocalizations, lack of gestures, limited social interactions, and inconsistent or lack of response to name. Based on this investigation, evaluators' discussion and observations were the most accurate and consistent when predicting an ASD diagnosis in at-risk 12 month-old infants when noting a child's vocalizations, gestures, and response to name.