Early Social Responding

Early social responding behaviors, including joint attention and social referencing, encompass the range of ways infants and young children interact with and respond to others in their social environment. These behaviors are crucial indicators of a child’s social and emotional development. Neurodivergent children, specifically autistic children may be more object focused rather than people. As a result, there may be skill deficits within this domain which benefit from systematic and explicit instruction with a primary focus on conditioning social attention and social stimuli as a reinforcer. When “tuning into” social partners and their bids for joint attention more frequently and consistently, there are additional opportunities to expand interactions including the development of social language, people/social play, and cognitive skills.