Motor Speech Disorders Laboratory UW
Treatment of Triadic Eye Gaze  
  
InfantAs an outgrowth of previous research focusing on early signals of communication, Drs. Lesley Olswang, Pat Dowden and Gay Lloyd Pinder have embarked on a major collaboration between the University of Washington and the University of Kansas. Beginning in the spring, 2007, a five year Program Project sponsored by the NIH was funded to examine behavioral milestones, or cusps, that are critical for developing successful communicative interactions in individuals with moderate to severe disabilities. The purpose of the UW project is to examine the efficacy of a treatment for teaching triadic eye gaze (TEG) to young children with significant motor impairments. Triadic eye gaze (looking back and forth between and adult and object, with or without accompanying gestures and vocalizations) is an important milestone that emerges in typically developing babies around 8-10 months. This behavior reflects the baby’s ability to convey coordinated attention between an object of desire and a communicative partner. It has been viewed as the first form of intentional communication and has been linked to later language development. For young children with motor impairments, TEG can serve to establish the beginning of purposeful communication when other signals are difficult to produce, making it a critical cusp in their development.
 
This research will utilize a randomized controlled research design to examine differences in learning TEG between 25 children receiving direct treatment for the behavior and 25 children receiving standard care without TEG treatment. The research will document how much treatment is necessary to learn TEG as measured in a clinical setting and at home. The study will also explore child characteristics in relationship to learning, and how TEG emerges over time with gestures and vocalizations.  Finally, the research employs a longitudinal component, to follow children through age three in an attempt to determine the relationship of TEG to later communication skills.  This project will provide information about how young children with disabilities develop communication skills.  The results should assist professionals in knowing how to enhance the communication of these children in their interaction with family, teachers, and caregivers.
   
This research has enabled a community-University of Washington research partnership.  The study will create an opportunity for UW personnel to work with five community Birth-to-Three Centers: South King Intervention Program (SKIP), Kindering Center, the Little Red School House, Northwest Center, and Boyer Children’s Clinic.  These clinics will provide access to families who will participate in the research. In addition, their clinicians will be involved in the research in several capacities.  This community-University of Washington connection creates valuable relationships for developing and implementing clinically relevant research for the birth-to-three population.
   
Project Personnel