Attentional Skills during the First 6 Months of Age in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Sandra Maestro, Filippo Muratori, Maria Cristina Cavallaro, Francesca Pei, Daniel Stern, Bernard Golse, Francisco Palacio-Espasa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To study the quality of early attention in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) through home movies. Method: Fifteen home movies from the first 6 months of life of children who later received a diagnosis of ASD were compared with home movies of 15 normal children. The diagnosis was performed after the third year of life of children by two senior child and adolescent psychiatrists using a checklist of symptoms according to the DSM-IV. The films of the two groups were mixed and rated by blind observers through a Grid for the Assessment of Attentional Skills in Infants, composed of 13 items grouped into three developmental areas. Results: Using multivariate analysis of variance, the authors found significant differences between the two groups for the items in the social attention and the social behavior areas; on the contrary, there were no differences in nonsocial attention. Conclusions: The authors pose some hypotheses about a specific early-appearing impairment of attention in ASD in which children shift their spontaneous attention mainly toward nonsocial stimuli rather than toward social stimuli. The importance of this finding for early diagnosis and treatment is underlined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1239-1245
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2002


  • Attention
  • Autism
  • Intersubjectivity
  • Social behaviors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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