Does Teaching Joint Attention Improve Language in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder? Purpose The purpose of this review was to examine the effects of interventions targeting joint attention (JA) on language outcomes of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Method Five databases were searched for studies meeting inclusion criteria for JA treatments. The articles were reviewed in ... Article
Article  |   February 01, 2017
Does Teaching Joint Attention Improve Language in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Stacy S. Manwaring
    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
  • Ashley L. Stevens
    Department of Educational Psychology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
  • Disclosures
    Disclosures ×
  • Financial: Stacy S. Manwaring has no relevant financial interests to disclose. Ashley L. Stevens has no relevant financial interests to disclose.
    Financial: Stacy S. Manwaring has no relevant financial interests to disclose. Ashley L. Stevens has no relevant financial interests to disclose.×
  • Nonfinancial: Stacy S. Manwaring has no relevant nonfinancial interests to disclose. Ashley L. Stevens has no relevant nonfinancial interests to disclose.
    Nonfinancial: Stacy S. Manwaring has no relevant nonfinancial interests to disclose. Ashley L. Stevens has no relevant nonfinancial interests to disclose.×
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Part 1
Article   |   February 01, 2017
Does Teaching Joint Attention Improve Language in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, February 2017, Vol. 2, 11-26. doi:10.1044/persp2.SIG1.11
History: Received August 8, 2016 , Revised November 1, 2016 , Accepted November 13, 2016
Perspectives of the ASHA Special Interest Groups, February 2017, Vol. 2, 11-26. doi:10.1044/persp2.SIG1.11
History: Received August 8, 2016; Revised November 1, 2016; Accepted November 13, 2016

Purpose The purpose of this review was to examine the effects of interventions targeting joint attention (JA) on language outcomes of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Method Five databases were searched for studies meeting inclusion criteria for JA treatments. The articles were reviewed in two phases: titles/abstracts followed by full text. This resulted in 21 studies meeting inclusion criteria. The authors independently extracted and coded key variables related to participants, study design, intervention, JA, and language outcomes.

Results Of the 21 studies, 17 were original studies and 4 reported on follow-up analyses. More than half reported utilizing a combined treatment approach to target JA that included behavioral and developmental strategies. Ten of the 20 studies that examined expressive language reported significant gains for the JA treatment group, with 4 of 10 reporting receptive language gains for the JA group.

Conclusions While the majority of studies to date have focused on expressive language, results of this review provide generally equivocal and moderate support for improvement in language outcomes for children with ASD receiving JA interventions. Continued research related to JA intervention delivered in community settings is needed to determine critical features that may lead to the greatest changes in language.

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