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The rise and fall of repetitive behaviours in a community sample of infants and toddlers

Fyfield, Rhiannon 2014. The rise and fall of repetitive behaviours in a community sample of infants and toddlers. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis examines motor stereotypies and repetitive actions with objects. These repetitive behaviours are an early diagnostic feature of autism. To date, no studies have systematically examined repetitive behaviours in a community sample of children aged 6 to 36 months, when behavioural signs of autism begin to emerge and the age at which motor and socio-communication skills are achieved. In this thesis, repetitive behaviours were assessed within the context of two studies, the First Friends and the Cardiff Child Development Study. Firstly, the Repetitive Behaviours Coding Scheme was developed; it is the first scheme developed from narrative records of behaviours that accurately represent the range of repetitive behaviours commonly seen in infants and toddlers (Chapter 2). Repetitive behaviours were measured during 6- and 12-month-olds’ object exploration (Chapter 4); they were ubiquitous at 12 months and there was a significant increase in the use of the repetition from early to late infancy. The investigation extended to examining the association between repetition and developmental milestones. Frequent use of motor stereotypies but not repetitive actions with objects characterised infants who were more immature in their locomotor development (Chapter 5). Infants who engaged in more repetition were no worse at nonverbal communication, as measured by joint attention. I examined the decline in repetitive behaviours by conducting longitudinal assessments and found a significant decrease in the frequency of repetition from infancy to toddlerhood (Chapter 6). I found that toddlers who still engage in repetitive behaviours in their third year did not have poorer inhibitory control nor have higher ratings of ADHD symptoms but had better socio-communicative skills (Chapter 7). These findings offer a developmental framework to assess the function of repetitive behaviours; repetitive behaviours characterise children who are less motorically mature but they are not associated with a deficit in communicative abilities or social competence.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 08:03

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