(Photo: Lars Plougmann)
Some babies are at risk for autism because they have an older sibling that has the disorder. To find new ways to detect Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) earlier in life, researchers are exploring the subtleties of babies’ interactions with others and how they relate to the possibility and severity of future symptoms.
A new study helps us to understand the connection between early joint attention before one year and later ASD symptoms. Joint attention is an early form of communication that develops toward the end of the first year. It’s the act of making eye contact with another person to share an experience.
Previous studies have shown that low levels of initiating joint attention are linked to later autism symptoms in high-risk siblings. The current study reveals that joint attention without a positive affective component (a smile) in the first year is particularly important to this relationship.