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Interventions targeting joint attention and symbolic play can improve aspects of these skills in young children with autism

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Q Does teaching joint attention skills or symbolic play improve developmental problems in autistic children?


Embedded ImageDesign:

Randomised controlled trial.

Embedded ImageAllocation:


Embedded ImageBlinding:

Single blind (assessors blinded).

Embedded ImageFollow up period:

Five to six weeks (treatment period only).

Embedded ImageSetting:

Preschool classroom, USA.

Embedded ImagePatients:

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).

Embedded ImageIntervention:

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 …

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  • For correspondence: Connie Kasari, 3132 Moore Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA; Kasari{at}

  • Sources of funding: National Institute of Health and CFEA Network, USA.