Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #75
CE Offered: BACB
Joint Attention Intervention for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Saturday, May 23, 2009
3:30 PM–4:50 PM
North 124 A
Area: AUT/DDA; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Anibal Gutierrez Jr. (University of Miami)
CE Instructor: Katharine Gutshall, M.A..
Abstract: Joint attention, defined as sharing and following the attention of others (via coordinated attention to toys and people) (e.g., showing, pointing, gaze shifting), is a core deficit in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Research has shown that joint attention consistently predicts cognitive and language outcomes among children with ASD, making it a relevant target for intervention in young children with ASD. Recent studies also indicate that behaviorally-based interventions are successful at increasing joint attention skill, and in some cases these skills can be generalized and maintained over time. This symposium will provide an overview of joint attention from a behavior analytic perspective as well as review structured teaching strategies that increase joint attention and improve engagement. This symposium will present data from a randomized control trial employing behavioral methodologies to increase joint attention skills and interpersonal synchrony, as well as single-subject data from a study aimed at increasing eye contact using pivotal response training.
An Emerging Technology: Using Structured Teaching to Increase Joint Attention in Young Children with ASD
BETH REYNOLDS (University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Division TEACCH), Kara Hume (University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute)
Abstract: Recent studies have indicated that joint attention, defined as sharing and following the attention of others (via coordinated attention to toys and people, showing toys or pointing to events and objects), can be successfully taught to young children with ASD, and that these skills can be generalized and maintained over time (Kasari, Freeman, & Paparella, 2006; Rocha, Schreibman, & Stahmer, 2007). A number of the teaching strategies used in these studies are similar to the teaching techniques used in Division TEACCH’s early childhood program, including the use of structured activities in the initial teaching phases, building activities around child interest, manipulating the environment to facilitate social and communicative attempts, as well as imitation of child behavior, and planned steps towards generalization. This paper will highlight how structured teaching strategies increase joint attention and engagement, the empirical foundation for these strategies, and includes a number of classroom examples, photos, and video clips.
A Randomized Control Trial Targeting Initiating Joint Attention Skills in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
JENNIFER STELLA DUROCHER (University of Miami), Melissa N. Hale (University of Miami), Anibal Gutierrez Jr. (University of Miami), Michael Alessandri (University of Miami)
Abstract: Joint attention involves sharing attention with others regarding interesting objects or events and is a core deficit in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Joint attention has recently become an intervention target based on findings that joint attention consistently predicts cognitive and language outcomes among children with ASD. The proposed presentation will describe the methodology for a current randomized control trial (RCT) of an initiating joint attention (IJA) intervention for 40 children with ASD between the ages of 2 and 5. Pre-assessments are used to confirm ASD diagnosis and lack of well-developed IJA skills, and to measure variables that may predict differential response to the intervention (e.g., the reinforcing value of social consequences and preference for adult attention). Participants are randomized to either a treatment or “wait-list” control group. Intervention consists of a total of 16 sessions (twice a week for 8 weeks) targeting pointing, showing and gaze-shifting. Individual subject data are collected for all sessions. Post-treatment and 3-month follow-up assessments are administered to evaluate generalization and maintenance of skills. Data using a multiple baseline design across subjects will be presented, in additional to preliminary between-group comparisons. Implications of current findings and future direction will be discussed.
Building Interpersonal Synchrony: Teaching Joint Attention in Toddlers with Autism
KATHERINE C. HOLMAN (Kennedy Krieger Institute), Rebecca Landa (Kennedy Krieger Institute)
Abstract: Introduction: Social and communication development are impaired early in life in children with autism and they are predictors of outcome. This study focused on determining whether interpersonal synchrony (joint attention, social contingent imitation, shared affect) could be improved in 2-year-olds with autism. Method: 49 two-year-olds with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) were matched on verbal and non-verbal mental age and severity of autism symptoms and then randomly assigned to one of two intervention conditions. The conditions were identical in intensity, schedule, intervention strategies, and parent training. However, in the ‘Interpersonal Synchrony’ condition, sessions were saturated with activities that targeted response to joint attention cues, initiation of joint attention, socially contingent imitation, and affect sharing. Children received assessments pre-treatment, post-treatment, and 6-months following. Results: Children in both groups made significant improvement in receptive and expressive language and in imitation from pre- to post-intervention (p=0.008 to 0.001), but only children in the Interpersonal Synchrony condition made significant gains in joint attention and shared affect (p’s=0.01). Discussion: These findings suggest intensive early intervention emphasizing interpersonal synchrony can improve core deficits of autism involving joint attention, imitation, and shared affect.
A Parent Training Procedure Utilizing Video Modeling and Feedback to Increase the Frequency of Eye Contact in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
TARA M. SHEEHAN (Nova Southeastern University Mailman Segal Institu), Heather O'Brien (Nova Southeastern University Mailman Segal Institute), Liliana Dietsch (Nova Southeastern University Mailman Segal Institute), Melissa DeVincentis (Nova Southeastern University), Hernan Dennis Ruf (Nova Southeastern University Mailman Segal Institute)
Abstract: This presentation will outline a parent training procedure based on pivotal response training designed to teach parents to evoke and reinforce eye contact behavior when interacting in play activities with their young child with autism spectrum disorder. Video will be used to highlight the training procedure and demonstrate the effects on parent behavior. Data on both parent and child behavior will be presented and the effectiveness of utilizing parents to increase the frequency of eye contact with their child with autism spectrum disorder will be discussed.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh