Our study is designed to assess eye-pointing in children who have:
- cerebral palsy affecting the whole body;
- little or no functional speech;
- a developmental age of approximately 9 months to 6 years;
- chronological age 4 to 10 years.
What is eye-pointing?
Eye-pointing serves the same function as finger pointing. For example, by looking between an object and their partner, a child might signal that they are interested in or want to play with that object. Eye-pointing is described as "The context-relevant, controlled and intentional use of gaze in order to direct one or more partner's visual attention to any item or object for a deliberate communicative purpose. Other communication modes (facial expression, vocalization, head movement and body position) may be employed, as available, to support the use of gaze" (Sargent et al., 2013).
Eye-pointing in children with cerebral palsy
Children with cerebral palsy affecting the whole body who have little or no functional speech are often reliant on using their eyes to communicate and engage with the world. Some non-speaking children with cerebral palsy use eye-pointing skills effectively, however some children have difficulty using gaze in this way. It can be difficult to observe and describe gaze behaviour in these children.
The aim of our project
The aim of this project is to establish a simple, quick and robust 5-point eye-pointing classification scale to describe gaze behaviour. This will be useful in understanding how best to support children's communication skills now, while developing new skills for the future. We will also use eye tracking equipment to measure children's looking behaviours.