Institut des Systèmes Intelligents
et de Robotique





Tremplin CARNOT Interfaces



Thesis title : Dynamic, synchrony, reciprocity and motherese in interactions of infants who will developp autism through family home movies


Keywords : autism – parent-infant interaction – synchrony - infant-directed speech - family home movie - language development


Date and Location :

30th September 2011, 14 h
UPMC – Campus Jussieu, 4 Place Jussieu - 75005 Paris
Tour 55, 2ème étage, couloir 55-65, salle 304


Abstract :

This thesis studies early functioning of autistic infants, still unclear.
Our developmental study of family home movies shows that they lack interest in others since the first year of life, but begin to actively avoid others only during the second year of life. Thus there could be a dynamic leading to this final relational deficit (maybe through a intersubjective deficit).
To shed light on this dynamic, we took parents-infant synchrony into account, using computational methods on family home movies: infants show a very early deficit in orienting toward others and then in intersubjectivity; parents do respond normally to their infant but they are more insistent in soilliciting it as early as the first semester.
However, may the infant relational deficit have affective consequences on its parents in the long run ? Motherese or infant-directed speech (IDS) reveals  emotion in parent-infant interaction; belonging to an interactive loop, it supports both affective interaction and cognitive development: attention, language... May it sustain autistic infant’s social engagement ? And may it decrease over time because of the interactive dysfunction (lack of social interest and lack of intersubjectivity) ?
An algorithm detecting IDS was created and applied to a pilot study before to use it on all our films. First résults, to be confirm, suggest that IDS may be efficient in sustaining autistic infant’s reactivity, but maternal, not paternal IDS efficiency could drop over time.
In conclusion, we have laid a groundwork for studying dynamic interactions of autistic infants with their parents in order to approach the processes leading to the final autistic syndrom.