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Q Does teaching joint attention skills or symbolic play improve developmental problems in autistic children?
Randomised controlled trial.
Single blind (assessors blinded).
Follow up period:
Five to six weeks (treatment period only).
Preschool classroom, USA.
Sixty five children aged 3–4 years with autism (clinical diagnosis, supported by assessment with the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule and Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised; 79% male). Exclusion criteria included a history of seizures or other medical problems (such as genetic disorders).
Joint attention intervention (30 minutes daily), symbolic play intervention (30 minutes daily), or control (no intervention) over 5–6 weeks. Joint attention: focused on teaching joint attention skills (coordinated joint look, showing, giving to share, and pointing) and incorporated imitation and engineered play routines. Symbolic play: focused on improving representational use of objects. Both joint attention and symbolic play interventions consisted of 5–8 minutes of trained experimenter-directed instruction given at a table. …
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