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Behav Modif. 2006 Nov;30(6):782-834.

Multiple effects of joint attention intervention for children with autism.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Long Island University, Brookville, NY 11548, USA.


Joint attention refers to an early developing set of behaviors that plays a critical role in both social and language development and is specifically impaired in children with autism. In a series of three studies, preschool teachers demonstrated the effectiveness of discrete trial instruction and pivotal response training strategies to teach joint attention to 5 children with autism (Study 1). Parents of 2 of the 5 children also taught joint attention at home and in the community (Study 2). Several additional dependent measures demonstrated collateral improvements in expressive language and social-communicative characteristics that were socially validated by parent raters (Study 3). Results are discussed with respect to the importance of addressing different forms of joint attention, the necessity to extend intervention to naturalistic contexts and joint attention partners, the pivotal nature of joint attention, and whether intervention adequately addresses both the form and social function of joint attention.

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