Joint attention (JA), whose deficit is an early risk marker for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), has two dimensions: (1) responding to JA and (2) initiating JA. Eye-tracking technology has largely been used to investigate responding JA, but rarely to study initiating JA especially in young children with ASD. The aim of this study was to describe the differences in the visual patterns of toddlers with ASD and those with typical development (TD) during both responding JA and initiating JA tasks. Eye-tracking technology was used to monitor the gaze of 17 children with ASD and 15 age-matched children with TD during the presentation of short video sequences involving one responding JA and two initiating JA tasks (initiating JA-1 and initiating JA-2). Gaze accuracy, transitions and fixations were analyzed. No differences were found in the responding JA task between children with ASD and those with TD, whereas, in the initiating JA tasks, different patterns of fixation and transitions were shown between the groups. These results suggest that children with ASD and those with TD show different visual patterns when they are expected to initiate joint attention but not when they respond to joint attention. We hypothesized that differences in transitions and fixations are linked to ASD impairments in visual disengagement from face, in global scanning of the scene and in the ability to anticipate object's action.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Biological Psychiatry