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Why Babies Look: Social referencing and its implications for children with special educational needs

young boy and girl from behind looking out a window
March 23, 2023
18:00 - 19:30

Celebrating World Behaviour Analysis Day 2023, the CBA will host a talk on social referencing in infancy by Dr Maithri Sivaraman.

Event Description: An area of socialization that develops towards the end of the first year of life is social referencing, wherein infants when confronted with a novel or unusual event, look at an adult, and base their subsequent behaviour on the facial expression of the adult.  Social referencing is a preverbal foundational skill that seems pivotal to the development of verbal behaviour, and social and emotional skills in children. In my talk, I will describe (a) what is known so far about social referencing, (b) offer insight into its development over the course of the first two years of life in neurotypical and neurodiverse children, and (c) discuss training strategies to facilitate social referencing in children. Finally, I will also lay out my roadmap to extend this research program and discuss implications for the present state of intervention services.

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of the presentation, the participants will be able to:

  1. Operationally define social referencing and list at least three contexts that evoke social referencing in young children
  2. Describe social referencing using behaviour analytic terminology
  3. Describe teaching strategies to address social referencing in children with special educational needs
  4. List the next steps for research on this early skill.

Watch Maithri Sivaraman’s webinar

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young boy and girl from behind looking out a window