Authors: Vismara LA, Lyons GL
Title: Using Perseverative Interests to Elicit Joint Attention Behaviors in Young Children with Autism: Theoretical and Clinical Implications for Understanding Motivation
Source: Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions 2007 9(4): 214-228
Year: 2007
Research Design: Single Case Design

Various explanations have been offered in the literature on the underlying cause of joint attention deficits in autism. One possible explanation is that children with autism are capable of producing joint attention but lack the social motivation to share their interests with others. The current study used a single-subject reversal design with alternating treatments to examine whether joint attention initiations for social sharing would occur as a collateral effect of utilizing the motivational techniques of Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT) in conjunction with perseverative interest stimuli for three young nonverbal children with autism. Results indicated an immediate increase in joint attention initiations when perseverative, or highly preferred, interests were incorporated within the motivational techniques of PRT. Additional findings included collateral increases in joint attention initiations toward less preferred interests, as well as improvements in the quality of interaction between the children and caregivers. Findings are discussed in terms of theoretical and clinical implications for understanding the role of motivation in the development of joint attention in autism.

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