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Joint Attention: Communication and Other MindsIssues in Philosophy and Psychology$
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Naomi Eilan, Christoph Hoerl, Teresa McCormack, and Johannes Roessler

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199245635

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199245635.001.0001

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Why do Children with Autism have a Joint Attention Impairmen t?

Why do Children with Autism have a Joint Attention Impairmen t?

(p.205) 10 Why do Children with Autism have a Joint Attention Impairment?
Joint Attention: Communication and Other Minds

Sue Leekam

Oxford University Press

Clinicians describe joint attention difficulties such as a lack of gaze-following, pointing, and showing as the most significant problems that are seen in children with autism. What psychological impairment prevents these behaviours from appearing? This chapter takes one kind of joint attention difficulty — the lack of gaze-following in children with autism — and outlines the proposal that this impairment arises from an orienting impairment that arises early in development. It argues that despite an ability to orient, shift, and disengage attention to objects, children with autism have a very basic difficulty in dyadic orienting to other people that has impact on predictive gaze-following ability and on the development of subsequent symbolic skills.

Keywords:   autism, gaze following, social cue, dyadic interaction, attentional orienting, disengagement of attention, communicative intention, symbolic development

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