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Immediate imitation and joint attention in young children with autism

  • HERBERT ROEYERS (a1), PAULETTE VAN OOST (a1) and SYBIL BOTHUYNE (a1)

Abstract

There is growing scientific interest in the precursors to the ability of conceiving other people's minds. The present study investigates two candidate precursors, imitation and joint attention, in young children with autism and a control group of nonautistic children with a developmental delay. Children with autism were found to be impaired or delayed in both abilities. Gestural and procedural imitation were significantly related to mental age and chronological age in subjects with autism. Although the evidence for an autism-specific deficit appears to be stronger in the domain of joint-attention behaviors than it is in the domain of imitation, it seems premature to reject imitation as a possible precursor to the development of mindreading skills. Systematic investigations of the imitation deficit in autism are urgently needed.

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Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Herbert Roeyers, University of Ghent, Research Group Developmental Disorders, H. Dunantlaan 2, B-9000 Gent, Belgium; E-mail: Herbert.Roeyers@rug.ac.be.

Immediate imitation and joint attention in young children with autism

  • HERBERT ROEYERS (a1), PAULETTE VAN OOST (a1) and SYBIL BOTHUYNE (a1)

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