A new descriptive tool to distinguish eye-pointing from other looking behaviours

  • Michael T. Clarke (Speaker)
  • Rosemary Cooper (Speaker)
  • Laura McLaughlin (Contributor)
  • Gurveen Panesar (Contributor)
  • Gabriella Aberbach (Speaker)
  • Katie Price (Contributor)
  • Griffiths, T. (Contributor)
  • Caroline Rose (Contributor)
  • Jenefer Sargent (Contributor)
  • John Swettenham (Contributor)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Clinical experience and examination of research literature suggests that the term ‘eye-pointing’ is used to describe a range of different ‘looking’ behaviours in children. A lack of consistent description is problematic for several reasons including that it hampers effective communication between professionals and with families. Our proposed classification scale therefore aims to provide a reliable and systematic method for describing looking skills in relation to eye-pointing.

Our methods for development and validation of the scale have involved four stages: (1) initial drafting of the classification scale, (2) nominal group process to examine level of consensus in relation to scale content, (3) Delphi survey conducted with a wider group of experts to provide further examination of content validity and user guidance, leading to consensus agreement over two or more rounds of evaluation, (4) examination of inter-rater and test-retest reliability.

The scale provides five narrative descriptions in order of increasing functional limitation to which a child’s looking behaviour can be compared. For example, clear evidence of eye-pointing (level I on the scale) is observed when the child demonstrates a combined ability to fix gaze on an object, then shift gaze to someone’s face, and then return their gaze to the object. Alternatively, they may first fix their gaze on a person, then shift gaze to an object, and then return gaze to the person. The core skill set on which eye-pointing is dependant therefore
includes gaze fixation, disengaging and shifting gaze, and social engagement with others. Applying these skills successfully incorporates also the inhibition of (other) eye movements and maintenance of focused attention. To date, the scale has been used with 50 children and demonstrates excellent levels of reliability.

The scale is freely available and we invite you to explore its use in your clinical practice.
Period10 Sept 2017
Event titleCommunication Matters : CM2017 National AAC Conference
Event typeConference
LocationLeeds, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational