What is the role of protodeclarative pointing in predicting a later diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?

Updated: Sep 30, 2019
  • Author: James Robert Brasic, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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Protodeclarative pointing is the use of the index finger to indicate an item of interest to another person. Toddlers typically learn to use protodeclarative pointing to communicate their concern for an object to others. The absence of this behavior is predictive of a later diagnosis of autism. [111, 112]

The presence of protodeclarative pointing can be assessed by interview of the parent or caregiver. Screening questions include "Does your child ever use his or her index finger to point, to indicate interest in something?" A negative response to this question suggests the need for a specialized assessment for possible pervasive developmental disorder.

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