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Date of Award



Purpose:The aim of this study is to determine if joint attention interventions have an effect on general play skills in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) aged birth to five years.

Method: The reviewers examined various databases and selected research based on predetermined inclusion/exclusion criteria. This included peer-reviewed research articles that assessed children with a formal diagnosis of ASD between the ages of birth to five years, examined joint attention interventions, included outcome measures related to play, and were published after the year 2000. The articles reviewed consisted of 581 participants. Research designs included primarily pre-post randomized clinical trials, one single subject multiple baseline design, and one case study design.

Results: The collective results suggest that joint attention interventions may be effective in increasing play skills in children with ASD. While some studies report no change to either functional or symbolic play skills, other studies report improvements in only one type. No study reports a decrease in play skills.

Conclusion: While there is evidence that joint attention interventions may improve play skills in children with ASD, overall, the results of this systematic review are inconclusive. Future research will help to clarify if joint attention interventions have a measurable impact on either symbolic or functional play skill development.


Nancy Gauvin, EdD, CCC-SLP

The Efficacy of Joint Attention Interventions on Play Skills in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Systematic Review