Worth Repeating: What is Joint Attention and Why is it Important for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders?
[Source: Center for Speech, Language and Occupational Therapy]
Joint attention is the shared focus of two individuals on an object or each other . Joint attention on an object is achieved when one individual alerts another to an object by means of eye-gazing, pointing or other verbal or non-verbal indication. An individual gazes at another individual, points to an object and then returns their gaze to the individual (3 point gaze). Each individual must understand that the other individual is looking at the same object and realize that there is an element of shared attention. The individual must display awareness that focus is shared between himself and another individual. If two individuals are simply looking at the same object, but not referencing each other, it is referred to as shared gaze. Shared gaze is the lowest level of joint attention. Joint attention between people is a conversation-like behavior that individuals engage in. Adults and infants engage in this behavior starting at two months of age. Adults and infants take turns exchanging facial expressions and sounds. The sole purpose of joint attention is to share an interesting object or experience with another person.
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