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Title: Do children with a diagnosis of cerebral visual impairment present with autistic-like characteristics: a case series study
Author: Madigan , Cathy
ISNI:       0000 0004 2733 3120
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2012
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Cerebral Visual Impairment (CVI) is a brain-based visual processing disorder caused by abnormal development of, or damage to, the optic radiations, striate cortex, and peristriate areas (Soul & Matsuba, 2010). It is one of the leading causes of visual impairment in children. A wide spectrum of visual difficulties is described in children with CVI but there is only speculation about social behavioural outcomes, including autistic spectrum disorders. Results of a systematic review of studies of autism in children with congenital blindness suggest that a visual impairment places a child at greater risk of developing autism. The research question addressed in the present study is whether CVI (in the absence of major ocular disease) might be developmentally associated with features of autism. Using case series methodology, a cohort of nine children, age 5-15 years was selected with major risk factor for brain injury and a diagnosis of CVI, but without the presence of severe neurological disability. Parents were interviewed using the Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders and each child participated in the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. Information on visual behaviour was gathered using the CVI Question Inventory (Dutton et al 2010). All children in this case series emerged with some behavioural characteristics of autism. Using the standardised assessment protocols, 2 children reached the defined cut-off values for autism across both measures, and following adjustments for visual impairments, this was reduced to 1 child. This study suggests that children with CVI follow a range of developmental pathways, significantly influenced by their visual impairments such as abnormal face detection and poor perception of biological motion cues, the end points of which include some specific aspects of ASD (impaired gesture, face perception and imaginative play). These findings are discussed in relation to theories of social cognition and cognitive neuroscientific theories of social perception.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available