Authors: Murza KA, Schwartz JB, Hahs-Vaughn DL, Nye C
Title: Joint attention interventions for children with autism spectrum disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Source: International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders 2016 51(3): 236-251
Year: 2016
Research Design: Systematic Review

Background: A core social-communication deficit in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is limited joint attention behaviours—important in the diagnosis of ASD and shown to be a powerful predictor of later language ability. Various interventions have been used to train joint attention skills in children with ASD. However, it is unclear which participant, intervention and interventionist factors yield more positive results. Aims: The purpose of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to provide a quantitative assessment of the effectiveness of joint attention interventions aimed at improving joint attention abilities in children with ASD. Methods & Procedures: The researchers searched six databases for studies meeting the inclusion criteria at two levels: title/abstract and full-text stages. Two independent coders completed data extraction using a coding manual and form developed specifically for this research study. Meta-analysis procedures were used to determine the overall effects of several comparisons including treatment type, treatment administrator, intervention characteristics and follow-up. Main Contribution: Fifteen randomized experimental studies met inclusion criteria. All comparisons resulted in statistically significant effects, though overlapping confidence intervals suggest that none of the comparisons were statistically different from each other. Specifically, treatment administrator, dosage and design (control or comparison, etc.) characteristics of the studies do not appear to produce significantly different effects. Conclusions & Implications: The results of this meta-analysis provide strong support for explicit joint attention interventions for young children with ASD; however, it remains unclear which children with ASD respond to which type of intervention.

Access: Paywall