The theoretical implications of joint-attention deficits in autism

Peter Clive Mundy, Marian Sigman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Scopus citations


Deficits in gestural joint-attention behaviors are a prominent feature of young autistic children. Attempts to explain these deficits have called upon the metarepresentational deficit hypothesis (Baron-Cohen, 1988; Leslie & Frith, 1988). However, developmental research suggests that joint-attention skills emerge prior to the cognitive capacity for metarepresentation. Thus, the metarepresentational hypothesis does not appear to provide a parsimonious explanation of autistic joint-attention deficits. An alternative model is proposed that attempts to explain these deficits in terms of the combined negative impact of developmental disturbances in affective, as well as cognitive, processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-183
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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