About Down's Syndrome : Early Social Communication Skills of Children with DS

Using eye gaze for social communication

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Outline of the research

Our study is interested in how children with Down Syndrome use their eyes when communicating with others. The ways in which we use our eyes in interaction with other people is an important part of how we communicate and learn. While some young children develop looking skills for use in communication fairly easily, for others it can be difficult. Our study aims to try to identify if children are having difficulty with this. Knowing about this can help professionals and parents plan suitable support.

Our study will explore a number of looking-to-communicate skills in young children, using a number of simple activities that are easy to carry out and are suitable for young children. These include seeing how children move their eyes to show another person that they have seen some toys. We will monitor how your child responds with their eyes to our activities by just carefully observing their eye movements.

We will compare the information gathered with findings from the same activities used with children with cerebral palsy. We have already run our assessments with children with cerebral palsy.

The presence or absence of these looking skills has implications for the type of support that speech and language therapists might offer children and their families.

Researchers

Dr Michael Clarke Research Early Social Communication Skills of Children  Sarah McKay Research Early Social Communication Skills of Children  Lauren Delaney Research Early Social Communication Skills of Children

The researchers: Michael, Sarah and Lauren

Dr Michael Clarke is a Senior Lecturer and Speech and Language Therapist at University College London. Michael’s clinical and research work focuses on the support of children with learning and physical disabilities and their families.

Sarah McKay is a final year Speech and Language Therapy student at University College London. Prior to commencing the course she worked for several years supporting adults and children with learning disabilities. She is looking forward to working more in this area when qualified.

Lauren Delaney is a final year Speech and Language Therapy student at University College London. She has a keen interest in working with children with learning difficulties and outside of university runs a Scout group for children with special needs.

Contact

Dr Michael Clarke: 020 7679 4253 | m.clarke@ucl.ac.uk

Sarah McKay: sarah.mckay.13@ucl.ac.uk

Lauren Delaney: lauren.delaney.11@ucl.ac.uk