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J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 1998 Jul;39(5):747-53.

The frequency and distribution of spontaneous attention shifts between social and nonsocial stimuli in autistic, typically developing, and nonautistic developmentally delayed infants.

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1
Goldsmiths College, University of London, New Cross, UK.

Abstract

Spontaneous shifts of attention were observed in autistic, typically developing, and nonautistic developmentally delayed infants. Three types of attention shifting behaviour were observed; (1) between an object and another object, (2) between an object and a person, and (3) between a person and another person. The two control groups shifted attention more frequently between an object and a person than between an object and another object or between a person and another person. The infants with autism showed a different pattern, shifting attention between an object and another object more than any other type of shift. Furthermore, infants with autism showed fewer shifts of attention between an object and a person, and between person and person, than did the two control groups. They also spent less time overall looking at people and looked more briefly at people and for longer durations at objects, compared to the two control groups. These results indicate an abnormality in social orientation in autism even at the early age of 20 months.

PMID:
9690937
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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