What is Joint Attention? Why is it Important?
Joint attention. This is a term you may have heard in reference to your child’s development. But, what is it really? Joint attention is simply the shared focus of two individuals (i.e. you and your child) on the same object of interest. This can happen when one individual alerts their communication partner to an object, usually through eye gaze and pointing. For example, you and your child are outside. You then see an airplane flying in the sky. You initiate joint attention by pointing and looking at the airplane saying “Look! An airplane!” hoping that your child will follow your gaze and point and also attend to that airplane.
Children on the autism spectrum often have difficulty both following joint attention and initiating this interaction with their caregivers or peers. Overall, joint attention is crucial for developing your child’s communication. It also helps develop important social skills such as bonding and seeing another’s point of view. Here are some ways you can work on increasing your child’s joint attention skills: