Children with autism show typical joint attention while playing with their parents

Summary: Young children with autism have the same attention as a neurotic child when playing with their parents.

A source: Cell Press

For decades, research on autism has been limited to the child’s day-to-day interactions with others, based on data collected during laboratory assignments or interviews with clinics.

A study published in the journal Current biology On May 12, he will protest against the status quo by observing children in natural playgrounds.

Researchers have found that children with autism use a camera mounted on their head to monitor the movements of their eyes as they play with toys.

Julia Yurkovich-Harding, an autism researcher at Indiana University, was one of the first to use eye tracking in children with autism to understand how children interact with their social partners in a comfortable and natural environment. between children and their parents.

Yurkovich-Harding, the study’s first author, says that other built-in eye controls allow them to be more accurate in measuring visual attention and hand movements, but also allow children to play more naturally.

Children with autism often have difficulty observing their social partner. This behavior, called perspective, is a key part of the joint attention of autism researchers.

However, researchers using head-mounted eye tracking to study the development of normal developing children have recently found that children do not pay much attention to their parents’ faces when they play with toys.

This means that the gauze is not an available signal to achieve joint attention in another natural environment. Instead, developing children usually follow the hand of the parent holding or holding the toy to see what the parent is looking at.

Evaluation of the data collected during the game sessions with a group of 50 children aged 2 to 4 years showed that the joint attention of autistic children was appropriate for their neurotic type peers.

Children with autism often have difficulty observing their social partner. Image in public domain

These results were interesting for Yurkovich-Harding. “Children with autism have a chance to explore whenever they find something that is typical and intact,” she says. In addition, children with autism used hand gestures, not gauze, to draw the attention of their parents.

Experiences that focus on activities such as playing with a toy truck or building blocks with a child’s parents are believed to help develop language.

A current study found that parents of children with autism are more likely to name toys when they pay attention together than when they do not.

Yurkovich-Harding and his team hope that by identifying cases where children with autism can play more normally, adults will encourage autistic children to do more of these activities and give them more opportunities to learn.

“We need to encourage people with autism to understand the daily lives of people with autism, the social pressures they face on a daily basis and the social context in which they interact, so we can help them exist in the social world around us. It’s convenient and safe for them.” he says.

ASD research news about this

Author: Press service
A source: Cell Press
The connection: Press Service – Mobile Press Service
Photo: Image in public domain

Original study: Open access.
According to Julia Yurkovich-Harding and others, “Children with ASD pay joint attention when playing with free-flowing toys.” Current biology


See also

It represents a newborn baby

The faces of children with ASD are invisible, and joint attention is paid when playing free toys


  • ASD children often and at a typical level of joint attention while playing with toys
  • Like TD diodes, ASD diodes follow the hand (not the eyes) for joint attention
  • Parents in both groups are more likely to name toys when they pay attention together
  • These findings raise questions about the importance of ASD joint deficit

A result

The ability to share children’s attention with another person (ie, to achieve joint attention) is very important to support their learning of their environment in general and, in particular, language and objective speech.

Because joint attention (JA) refers to autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it is often used in a narrow range of visual acuity or visual cues, but recent evidence has shown that JA can be achieved in a number of other ways. and gestures.

Here, we use double-blind eye observation to compare children with ASD with developing children (TD) to explore the ways and features of JA episodes during free play by parents and children. Moments of JA are objectively defined as the focus of both the child and the parent on the same object at the same time.

TD is consistent with children’s previous work, we found that children with TD and ASD rarely looked at their parents ’faces in the context of this unstructured free play. However, both groups achieved high JA scores, far exceeding this potential, suggesting that JA could use alternative routes. We identify these alternatives, find that they are equal at the level of both groups, and achieve similar goals: that is, for both groups, the JA goals are more often mentioned by parents than objects that were not present at the time.

These findings expand the conceptualization of JA abilities and impairment in ASD and raise questions about the mechanical role of the JA pathway through the face in ASD.

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