Precursors to Social and Communication Difficulties in Infants At-Risk for Autism: Gaze Following and Attentional Engagement

Rachael Bedford, Mayada Elsabbagh, Teodora Gliga, Andrew Pickles, Atsushi Senju, Tony Charman, Mark H. Johnson, BASIS Team

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Citations (Scopus)

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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2208-2218
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Volume42
Issue number10
Early online date26 Jan 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2012

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