Communication, Gaze and Autism : A Multimodal Interaction Perspective book cover
1st Edition

Communication, Gaze and Autism
A Multimodal Interaction Perspective

ISBN 9781138656550
Published May 31, 2018 by Routledge
310 Pages 19 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

In this innovative book on autism and gaze from a multimodal interaction perspective, Terhi Korkiakangas examines the role of gaze in everyday situations, asking why eye contact matters, and considering the implications of this crucial question for autism. Since persons on the autism spectrum tend to use it differently and might not engage in eye contact in social situations, gaze is a crucial topic for understanding autism, yet we know surprisingly little about this topic in a real-world context, beyond psychological experiments and the research lab.

Drawing on her research on authentic video-recorded social interactions, Korkiakangas shows how a multimodal interaction perspective can shed new light on gaze: what an instance of gaze does, and when, why, and for whom gaze ‘matters’, from both children on the autism spectrum and their social partners’ perspective, including teachers and parents. Grounded in the interactional tradition of conversation analysis, the multimodal interaction perspective offers a major contribution to our understanding of autism by examining communication beyond talk and linguistic resources. Communication, Gaze and Autism considers both mutual gaze and gaze aversion during talk or silence, alongside facial expressions, gestures, and other body movements, to understand what gaze is used for, and to rethink ‘eye contact’. The book includes a methodological introduction, practical tools for doing multimodal interaction research, and empirical findings. It also considers the voices of those people on the autism spectrum from the blogosphere, who suggest that eye contact has less significance for them and represents a communication difference, rather than a deficit.

This book is designed for anyone with an academic, professional or personal interest in autism. It will particularly appeal to senior undergraduate and graduate students, researchers and practitioners in the fields of communication, social interaction and autism.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Communication, Gaze, and Autism: Mapping the Terrain

Chapter 2. A Multimodal Interaction Perspective

Part I: Methodological foundations

Part II: A Multimodal Interaction Research Process

Chapter 3. Autism in the Interactional Tradition: Reviewing the Field

Chapter 4. The Interactional Work of Mutual Gaze

Chapter 5. The Interactional Work of Gaze and Smiling

Chapter 6. Gaze Aversion and Display of Emotion

Chapter 7. Gaze Aversion and Progress of Interaction

Chapter 8. Closing Thoughts and Future Directions

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Terhi Korkiakangas, PhD, MSc, BSc, is Honorary Senior Research Associate at University College London, Institute of Education. She has a background in psychology, and over ten years of experience in social interaction research with children on the autism spectrum and in health-care contexts. She has received several research grants, and her research addresses both social science and clinical audiences.


"Terhi Korkiakangas’ innovative perspective effectively demystifies the phenomenon of gaze as a communicative act between autistic children. This book will therefore be of great interest to graduate students, researchers and practitioners in the fields of psychology and the neurosciences who wish to learn more about the considerable array of multimodal features which characterize the social interactions of persons with ASD." - Yanhua Cheng, Discourse Studies