Abstract: A Comparison of Contexts for Assessing Joint Attention in Toddlers on the Autism Spectrum.

ROOS, E. M., MCDUFFIE, A. S., ELLIS WEISMER, S., & GERNSBACHER, M. A. (2008). A comparison of contexts for assessing joint attention in toddlers on the autism spectrum. Autism, 12, 275-291.
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Young children on the autism spectrum often demonstrate atypical joint attention behaviors (Chawarska et al., 2007; Filipek et al., 1999; Mundy et al., 1986; 1990; 1994; Osterling and Dawson, 1994), and atypical joint attention has been posited to serve as an early indicator of autism (Dawson et al., 2004). Various lines of research have explored the association between atypical joint attention and concurrent or subsequent diagnoses of autism. For example, parent report data have indicated that children with diagnoses on the autism spectrum differ significantly from children with developmental delays in the use of referential eye contact, showing and pointing to objects, following the points of others, and communicative vocalizations (Wimpory et al., 2000). Retrospective reviews of early home videotapes have indicated that infants who later received diagnoses on the autism spectrum demonstrated fewer instances of pointing or showing objects to others, orienting to their names, and looking at others when compared with infants with typical development (Mars et al., 1998; Osterling and Dawson, 1994; Osterling et al., 2002). Prospective data from younger siblings of children with autism have revealed that, by 12 months of age, younger siblings later diagnosed with autism differed from other siblings in their rate of eye contact, responding to their names, and pointing (Zwaigenbaum et al., 2005). Thus, some researchers consider atypicalities in joint attention to represent a core feature of autism in young children (Charman, 2003; Mundy and Burnette, 2005).