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Autism spectrum disorders are characterized in terms of behavioral deficits in areas of social behavior and language development. A failure to attend to the faces of others is the single best discriminator between 1-year-old children later diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and those with typical development. Attending to the face of another provides the opportunity for episodes of attention sharing and is important to the development of communication, joint attention, and social behavior. A more advanced form of attending to a face is joint attention which has been defined as the ability to coordinate attention between an object and a person in a social context and is often regarded as an important developmental milestone. Since children with an ASD typically do not attend to the faces of others, they do not obtain social information provided by the faces of others, as in for example joint attention. Impairments in joint attention are also among the earliest signs of an ASD and, as such, play a crucial role in understanding the deficits in the area of social behavior that accompany the disorder. The current study examined the effects of teaching attending to a face to three children with an ASD aged 26 to 30 months. Results indicated that all three participants demonstrated an increase in attending-to-a-face and following gaze/head-turn behavior during treatment. This increase was also evident in generalization measures, which took place with novel stimuli, after treatment demonstrating that the program implemented for generalization across stimuli was effective.
Gomez, Tina Rovito, "The Effect of Teaching Attending to a Face on Joint Attention Skills in Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder" (2010). CUNY Academic Works.