Thursday, May 15, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)10:30 AM
Background: It is generally accepted that joint attention is impaired in children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). A better understanding of this impairment could have positive implications for early detection and intervention. Objectives: In order to get a better understanding of problems with joint attention in children with ASD, the current research investigates underlying processes of joint attention, namely the understanding of intentionality, attentional skills and the orientation towards social stimuli. Methods: Children with a (suspicion of an) ASD and children with a typical development at the age of 24 and 36 months, were invited to do a series of tasks. The understanding of intentionality was measured by observing the behavioural responses of children towards an adult who was either unwilling or unable to give them a toy. Attentional skills (e.g. disengaging, shifting) were measured by a visual cueing paradigm and the orientation towards social stimuli was studied by a visual preference paradigm with social and non-social stimuli. Several joint attention tasks were included. Results: Data are being collected and will be available at IMFAR. It is expected that typically developing children will have a better understanding of intentionality, better attentional skills and a more pronounced social preference than children with ASD. According to our hypothesis, these skills are associated with the quality of joint attention behaviour. Conclusions: Implications for understanding joint attention impairments in children with an ASD will be discussed.