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

Bedford, Rachael, Elsabbagh, Mayada, Gliga, Teodora, Pickles, Andrew, Senju, Atsushi, Charman, Tony and Johnson, Mark H. and The BASIS Team (2012) Precursors to social and communication difficulties in infants at-risk for autism:Gaze following and attentional engagement. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42 (10). pp. 2208-2218. ISSN 0162-3257

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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.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding Information: Acknowledgments This work has been supported by, a Bloomsbury Colleges Scholarship to R. Bedford, a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship to M. Elsabbagh, and the BASIS funding consortium led by Autistica ( and a UK Medical Research Council Programme Grant (G0701484) to M.H. Johnson. The Centre for Research in Autism and Education is supported by The Cloth-workers’ Foundation and Pears Foundation. T. Charman and M. El-sabbagh are supported by the COST Action BM1004. We thank all the families who participated in this study and Liz Pellicano for helpful discussions.
Uncontrolled Keywords: at-risk siblings,autism,broader autism phenotype,gaze following,joint attention,developmental and educational psychology ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3200/3204
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2024 18:30
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 18:30
DOI: 10.1007/s10803-012-1450-y

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