The nature of social preference and interactions in Smith-Magenis syndrome

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Colleges, School and Institutes


This natural observation study was designed to evaluate hypothesized elevated 'attention-seeking' and preference for adult attention in Smith-Magenis syndrome. Ten children with Smith-Magenis syndrome were observed across one school day, together with an age matched sample of 10 children with Down syndrome. Levels of attention given to, and vigilance for, adults and peers were recorded and compared. Sequences of behaviour were analyzed to evaluate the temporal relationships between giving and receiving attention during adult-child interactions. Compared to children with Down syndrome, children with Smith-Magenis syndrome gave preferential attention to adults and looked towards adults significantly more than they looked towards peers. Sequential analyses revealed that while children with Smith-Magenis syndrome did not initiate interactions with adults more than children with Down syndrome did, reciprocity between child and adult social behaviours in Smith-Magenis syndrome within interactions was compromised. This less synchronous sequence of child and adult interactions in Smith-Magenis syndrome may be the result of children with Smith-Magenis syndrome attempting to initiate interaction at times when it is unavailable. The marked preference for interacting with adults over peers in Smith-Magenis syndrome indicates atypicality of social interaction in this syndrome. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Bibliographic note

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4355-4365
Number of pages11
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number12
Early online date9 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • Adolescent, Case-Control Studies, Child, Child, Preschool, Down Syndrome, Female, Humans, Interpersonal Relations, Male, Smith-Magenis Syndrome, Social Behavior