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J Autism Dev Disord. 2012 Oct;42(10):2208-18.

Precursors to social and communication difficulties in infants at-risk for autism: gaze following and attentional engagement.

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1
Centre for Research in Autism and Education, Institute of Education, University of London, 25 Woburn Square, London, UK. r.bedford@ioe.ac.uk

Abstract

Whilst joint attention (JA) impairments in autism have been widely studied, little is known about the early development of gaze following, a precursor to establishing JA. We employed eye-tracking to record gaze following longitudinally in infants with and without a family history of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at 7 and 13 months. No group difference was found between at-risk and low-risk infants in gaze following behaviour at either age. However, despite following gaze successfully at 13 months, at-risk infants with later emerging socio-communication difficulties (both those with ASD and atypical development at 36 months of age) allocated less attention to the congruent object compared to typically developing at-risk siblings and low-risk controls. The findings suggest that the subtle emergence of difficulties in JA in infancy may be related to ASD and other atypical outcomes.

PMID:
22278030
DOI:
10.1007/s10803-012-1450-y
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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