Date of Award

Spring 1997

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Psychology

Abstract

Angelman syndrome is a genetic disorder involving a deletion on the maternal chromosome 15 characterized by a variety of physical, mental and behavioral problems. This paper addressed the physical problem of hypo pigmentation as it effects the eyes and vision, as well as the behavioral problems of hyperactivity and a short attention span. The hypothesis is that a preference for the color yellow, which may be connected with hypopigmentation, can be used in training programs to increase attention span towards certain tasks. Five individuals with Angelman syndrome were observed to discern a color preference or a tendency to choose one color significantly more often than others. Once this was established, this information was used to test the length of attention span towards activities using the preferred color compared to the other colors. Results showed that each child did seem to prefer one color over others, but each child preferred a different color, so the color yellow was not significant. Attention span was not influenced by color at all. The importance of this paper is the idea that attention span may be increased through sensory integration types of techniques rather than through the use of drugs or other methods. This is important information for families, teachers, therapists, and care-givers who work with children who have Angelman syndrome and struggle daily, finding themselves discouraged with training programs that are inhibited by the child’s lack of attention to the task. Additional methods such as those described in this paper can be attempted to help facilitate training. Questions such as those raised in this paper offer encouragement to those working with children with Angelman syndrome to not give up on training, but to instead reevaluate the reasons behind failure and to attempt new strategies that may be better suited to the child and the situation.