This study examined whether infant joint attention (JA) skills predicted social behaviors in a sample of at-risk preschool children (n = 30) with a history of prenatal exposure to cocaine. JA behaviors were assessed with the Early Social and Communication Scales at 12, 15, and 18 months of age. Three classes of JA were measured: Initiating JA (IJA), Responding to JA (RJA), and Requests. Behavioral outcomes were measured at 36 months and included ratings of disruptive and withdrawn behaviors and social competence. JA behaviors were related to behavioral outcomes after controlling for language and cognitive ability. The functionally distinct uses of JA were differentially related to behavioral outcome. IJA negatively predicted disruptive behaviors, whereas Requests positively predicted disruptive behaviors. Infant RJA negatively predicted withdrawn behaviors and positively predicted social competence. These results are interpreted in the context of competing theories that attempt to explain variability in the expression of JA skills in the second year of life.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology