Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 37–48 | Cite as

Response to Joint Attention in Toddlers at Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Prospective Study

  • Michelle Sullivan
  • Julianna Finelli
  • Alison Marvin
  • Elizabeth Garrett-Mayer
  • Margaret Bauman
  • Rebecca LandaEmail author
Original Paper


Response to joint attention (RJA) is impaired in preschoolers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and is pivotal to social and communication development. Response to joint attention was examined at 14 and 24 months in 51 children at high risk for autism (siblings of children with autism). Outcome groups at age 3 years included ASD (n = 16), broader autism phenotype (n = 8), and non-broader autism phenotype (n = 27). The ASD group made minimal improvement in RJA between 14 and 24 months, but stability of RJA across tasks increased for all three groups. Significantly, lower RJA was observed for the ASD group at 24 months. Response to joint attention performance at 14 months predicted ASD outcome. Response to joint attention is an important screening and early intervention target.


Autism Joint attention Longitudinal Phenotype Siblings Social communication 



The authors express their gratitude for the funding provided by grants MH59630 and 154MH066417 (Studies to Advance Autism Research and Treatment) from the National Institute of Mental Health, funding from NIMH 5T32MH20033-07 (postdoctoral fellowship for Michelle Sullivan), and funding from Pathfinders for Autism, National Alliance for Autism Research, Cure Autism Now, and Coalition for Autism, awarded to Rebecca Landa (PI). We thank the families for their generous participation in and commitment to this research. Sincere appreciation is also expressed to staff, without whose efforts this research could not be executed: Sarah Beal, Cornelia Taylor, Jim Mancini, Allison Nelson, Amy Knecht, Julie Rusyniak, Seton Lindsay, Dana Christina, Laura Becker, Julie Cleary, Katherine Holman, Katie Owens, Amy Reese, Allison O’Neill, Amy Falk, Audrey Thurm, Melissa Martin, Kelley Shaw, Sharon Loza, Lesley Strunge, Kathryn Gleeson, Andrea Schanbacher, Andrea Golloher, Kirsten Basore, Kate Brooks, Monae Johnson, Sue Miller, Erica Gee, Juhi Pandey, and Rachel Weiman.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle Sullivan
    • 1
  • Julianna Finelli
    • 2
  • Alison Marvin
    • 2
  • Elizabeth Garrett-Mayer
    • 3
  • Margaret Bauman
    • 4
  • Rebecca Landa
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute on Disability/UCEDUniversity of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Center for Autism and Related DisordersKennedy Krieger InstituteBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Department of Oncology and Biostatistics, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center and Bloomberg School of Public HealthJohns Hopkins School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  4. 4.Departments of Pediatrics and NeurologyMassachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Psychiatry, Center for Autism and Related DisordersKennedy Krieger Institute, Johns Hopkins School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA

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