Initiating joint attention with a smile: Intervention for children with autism.

Joint attention (JA) involves gaze, gesture, and vocal behavior as well as the expression of positive affect such as smiling. Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) demonstrate deficits in JA and affective expression in early childhood, suggesting the need to teach both. We taught children with ASD to shift their gaze and smile in a pattern that mirrors initiating joint attention (IJA). The intervention involved the use of a visual prompt and reinforcement. All children shifted gaze and smiled, showed some generalization and maintenance at 3-month follow-up, and showed changes in the quality of interactions as judged by blind observers. This study extends JA intervention research to address aspects of IJA and the expression of affect. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)