, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 501-512

Temporal Coordination of Joint Attention Behavior in Preschoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorder

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The current study investigated initiating and following declarative joint attention, and initiating requesting joint attention in a group of preschool children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and an age-matched control group. Different forms of joint attention were elicited while children interacted with their mothers. Temporal coordination of the children's joint attention behavior was examined using three levels of coding. Children with ASD showed less but similar requesting abilities and slower point following combined with an abnormal behavioral pattern of looking at the other person's pointing finger instead of the object pointed at. Initiating declarative behavior was qualitatively and quantitatively different, characterized by isolated instances of communication instead of a fluent shift of attention between object and person.