William H. Ahearn


Rebecca P. Fallows MacDonald, Chata Dickson

Date of Award


Date Accepted


Degree Grantor

Northeastern University

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Academic Unit

Bouvé College of Health Sciences. Department of Counseling and Applied Educational Psychology.


behavioral sciences, autism, joint attention

Subject Categories

Joint attention, Play assessment (Child psychology)


Child Psychology


The purpose of this study was to examine IJA [Initiating Joint Attention] scores of 34 children with autism [CWA] and 34 typically developing children [TDC] during and after toy activation. Composite scores summarized performance of three behaviors (gestures, eye contact, and vocalizations) across toys. Performance was evaluated during toy activation only, and two seconds and five seconds after activation. Results of the analysis indicated that for 13 out of 34 CWA and 13 out of 34 TDC, joint attention occurred within two seconds after the activation period. When observations included five seconds after the toy stopped, joint attention occurred for 22 of 34 CWA and 19 of 34 TDC. Extending the observation period after toy activation from 2-s to 5-s resulted in the number of joint attention initiations increasing. To obtain the most accurate assessment of joint attention behavior, observation and scoring should continue until five seconds after the activation period.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Rights Holder

Catherine Kitts Martinez

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