Affective sharing in the context of joint attention interactions of normal, autistic, and mentally retarded children

  • Connie Kasari
  • Marian Sigman
  • Peter Mundy
  • Nurit Yirmiya


Disturbances in the development of joint attention behaviors and the ability to share affect with others are two important components of the social deficits of young autistic children. We examined the association of shared positive affect during two different communicative contexts, joint attention and requesting. The pattern for the normal children was one of frequent positive affect displayed toward the adult during joint attention situations. Compared to the normal children, the autistic children failed to display high levels of positive affect during joint attention whereas the mentally retarded children displayed high levels of positive affect during requesting as well as joint attention situations. These results lend support to the hypothesis that the joint attention deficits in autistic children also are associated with a disturbance in affective sharing.


Positive Affect School Psychology Attention Deficit Normal Child Autistic Child 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adamson, L., & Bakeman, R. (1982). Affectivity and reference: Concepts, methods, and techniques in the study of communication development of 6-to-18-month-oldinfants. In T. Field & A. Fogel (Eds.),Emotion and early interaction (pp. 213–236). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  2. Adamson, L., & Bakeman, R. (1985). Affect and attention: Infants observed with mothers and peers.Child Development, 56, 582–593.Google Scholar
  3. American Psychiatric Association. (1980).Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (3rd ed.). Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  4. Bruner, J. (1981). Learning how to do things with words. In J. Bruner & A. Garton (Eds.),Human Growth and Development (pp. 62–84). London, England: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bruner, J. (1983).Child's talk: Learning to use language. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  6. Campos, J. J. (1983). The importance of affective communication in social referencing: A commentary on Feinman.Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 29, 83–87.Google Scholar
  7. Dawson, G., Hill, D., Spencer, A., & Galpert, L. (1988).Affective exchanges between young autistic children and their mothers. Paper presented at the International Conference on Infant Studies, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  8. Feinman, S. (1982). Social referencing in infancy.Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 28, 445–470.Google Scholar
  9. Hannan, T. E. (1987). A cross-sequential assessment of the occurrences of pointing in 3- to 12-month-old human infants.Infant Behavior and Development, 10, 11–22.Google Scholar
  10. Hornik, R., & Gunnar, M. (1988). A descriptive analysis of infant social referencing.Child Development, 59, 626–634.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Howlin, P. (1986). An overview of social behavior in autism. In E. Schopler & G. Mesibov (Eds.),Social behavior in autism (pp. 103–131). New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  12. Izard, C. E. (1979). The maximally discriminative facial movement coding system (MAX). Newark: University of Delaware.Google Scholar
  13. Leung, E., & Rheingold, H. (1981). Development of pointing as a social gesture.Developmental Psychology, 17, 215–220.Google Scholar
  14. Loveland, K., & Landry, S. (1986). Joint attention in autistic and language delayed children.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 16, 335–350.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Mitchell, S. (1979). Interobserver agreement, reliability, and generalizability of data collected in observational studies.Psychological Bulletin, 86, 376–390.Google Scholar
  16. Mundy, P., & Sigman, M. (1989). Specifying the nature of the social impairment in autism. In G. Dawson (Ed.),Autism: New perspectives on diagnosis, nature, and treatment, (pp. 3–21). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  17. Mundy, P., Sigman, M., & Kasan, C. (1990). A longitudinal study of joint attention and language development in autistic children.Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 20, 115–128.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Mundy, P., Sigman, M., Ungerer, J. A., & Sherman, T. (1986). Defining the social deficits in autism: The contribution of nonverbal communication measures.Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 27, 657–669.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Rheingold, H. L., Hay, D. G., & West, M. J. (1976). Sharing in the second year of life.Child Development, 47, 1148–1158.Google Scholar
  20. Sigman, M., Mundy, P., Sherman, T. & Ungerer, J. A. (1986). Social interactions of autistic, mentally retarded, and normal children with their caregivers.Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 27, 647–655.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Snow, M. E., Hertzig, M. E., & Shapiro, T. (1987). Expressions of emotion in young autistic children.Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 26, 836–838.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Sugarman, S. (1984). The development of preverbal communication. In R. L. Schiefelbusch & J. Pickar (Eds.),The acquisition of communicative competence (pp. 23–67). Baltimore: University Park Press.Google Scholar
  23. Walden, T., & Ogan, T. (1988). The development of social referencing.Child Development, 59, 1230–1240.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Yirmiya, N., Kasan, C., Sigman, M., & Munday, P. (1989). Facial expressions of affect in autistic, mentally retarded, and normal children.Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 30, 725–735.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Connie Kasari
    • 1
  • Marian Sigman
    • 1
  • Peter Mundy
    • 1
  • Nurit Yirmiya
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUCLA School of MedicineUSA

Personalised recommendations