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suggest that parents and professionals need to be conscious especially when children seem to show deficits in joint attention and symbolic communication. Deficits in joint attention means children have difficulties in “coordinating attention between people and objects”. Signs to look for are identified as below: children have problem in responding to a social partner; children can’t shift gaze between people and objects; there is no sharing of affect or emotions with other people; children fail to follow other’s gaze, point or draw other’s attention to share experiences. Deficits in symbolic use are characterised by “problems in (a) using conventional gestures, (b) understanding and using conventional meanings for words, and (c) using objects functionally and in symbolic play” (Woods & Wetherby, 2003, p. 181). Children with autism don’t use much of conventional gestures, such as waving, showing or pointing as discussed in the deficits of joint attention, nor symbolic gestures like head nodding or miming actions. Instead, “idiosyncratic, unconventional or inappropriate behaviours” might be detected in them, such as they might be aggressive and throwing tantrums all the time or they might hurt themselves. Children with autism are found to use significantly more “syllables with atypical phonation, such as squeals, growls, and yells” . For those children with autism who does learn to talk, echolalia that is imitating others’ speech is often found. Children with autism also show noticeable deficits in make-believe and functional play .


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