Purpose The purpose of this study was to understand how joint attention and sensory-regulatory features are related in early childhood and predict language and social-communication outcomes in preschool in order to build mechanistic theories that can inform early intervention directed at improving these outcomes. Method Cross-lagged panel analysis models were used to examine the association between joint attention and sensory-regulatory features at 13 and 22 months of age in children ( = 87) who were identified via community screening at 12 months as having a higher likelihood than the general population for being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Results Significant concurrent correlations and predictive correlations were found between these constructs at 13 and 22 months. Joint attention skills at 13 months predicted both joint attention and sensory-regulatory features at 22 months. Distal language and social-communication outcomes at preschool age ( = 48) were best predicted by sensory-regulatory features at 22 months. Conclusions Both joint attention and sensory regulation are important factors in the first and second years of life for impacting later preschool language and social-communication outcomes in this sample. These findings may have implications for future early childhood intervention research for children at a higher likelihood for autism spectrum disorder.

References

PubMed