Volume 15, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1568-1475
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9773
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Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) reportedly have difficulties in responding to bids for joint attention, notably in following pointing gestures. Previous studies have predominantly built on structured observation measures and predefined coding categories to measure children’s responsiveness to gestures. However, how these gestures are designed and what detailed interactional work they can accomplish have received less attention. In this paper, we use a multimodal approach to conversation analysis (CA) to investigate how educators design their use of pointing in interactions involving school-aged children with ASD or autistic features. The analysis shows that pointing had specific sequential implications for the children beyond mere attention sharing. Occasionally, the co-occurring talk and pointing led to ambiguities when a child was interpreting their interactional connotations, specifically when the pointing gesture lacked salience. The study demonstrates that the CA approach can increase understanding of how to facilitate the establishment of joint attention.


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