Joint Attention: An important tool for communication & cognition development.

Published by Farheen on

Today we will be discussing joint attention and see what it is? Why is joint attention important for communication and verbal responses? And how can we develop it in neurotypical or in special needs children? And most importantly, we will see that is the eye contact synonym to joint attention?
First of all, let’s have a look at

What is Joint Attention?

Joint Attention is the ability to share a common idea on people, objects, concepts, events, etc., with someone else. This joint attention strengthens the auditory skills as well as the receptive language skills. It involves the ability to gain, maintain, and shift attention. meaningful mutual visual gaze to concentrating on the same thing or interest is a tool to join the child’s attention. Overall, sharing a focus helps a child learn to communicate & develop social-cognitive skills such as bonding effectively with the mother and seeing another’s perspective; it provides the foundation of the theory of mind. Joint attention skills can be a predictor of future language & literacy skills development.

Joint Attention is one of the crucial prelinguistic skills established between 6-9 months of age. It is necessary for appropriate interactions and developing meaningful relationships. The child starts to interact with his parents and then with his peers. We can safely say it is the first step in social cognitive skills development.

Why is Joint Attention essential for communication development?

Joint attention plays a crucial role in child cognition and receptive language development. It is established when a child figures out how to focus on an object and then a person simultaneously. Joint attention is a milestone in child development as it provides the basis of auditory focus that later develops auditory perception. Once a child learns how to utter and manipulate the sound, he can understand & learn new words & vocabulary by listening to mom’s talk about the toys, as it is helpful for the child to match the words with the meanings.

What does a child learn by Joint Attention?

There are many other vital skills that children learn through joint Attention, including

  • Follow the instructions.
  • Shift their gaze between an object and the person increases the ability of visual perceptual closure
  • Use of prelinguistic & linguistic features, e.g., gestures, sounds, or words, while playing.
  • Play with a toy in new ways.
  • It enhances a child’s attention span and makes him able to interact for more extended periods.
  • Copy the actions (learn imitation).

Three most important steps to establish Joint Attention

Step I

The first step to promoting joint attention is to observe what the child is looking at and what he is doing. You need to figure out what’s caught his attention.

Step II

The next step is to imitate the child exactly. Get down to the child’s eye level, face-to-face, so you can keep observing him and find a way to join in playfully. If the child is playing with toys, play with those toys in the same manner.

Step III

Start quietly at first to see if the child will notice. Just play alongside him or imitate his actions if he looks at you, smile, and act like you’re enjoying yourself.
Follow this link to know more about “same thinking place”

Follow this link to know more about “same thinking place”

Activities for Joint Attention

  • For the next part, you’ll need something that the child loves. Find those items /toys that you think may be motivational to the child. They present them to the child by holding up two toys side by side, showing the child what each one does, and then holding them both up in front of him. Let him reach toward one. Give him the one he gets toward. Put the other one aside.
  • Let him play with the toy for a moment and then take it back. By this, you can introduce attention as well as inhibitory control.
  • Stand away from the child and put one toy in your hand. If the toy does something (lights up or makes sound), activate it once, so the child gets interested.
  • If the child moves close to you, then give it to him. At this point, you want to reinforce the child for just coming close to you. Congratulation, it is the first step of joint attention.
  • Once the child is sharing attention with you, you’ll want to try to stretch out the amount of time it lasts. Up until you have given the child the object as soon as he forms joint attention, and copy the child’s actions.
  • Increase the Variety of Activities that the Child will give Attention
  • The child can share focus with you on chosen activity (such as a preferred toy), see if you can get him to share Attention with you on something of your choosing.
  • The book-reading activities are an excellent example for engaging a 1.5 to 2 years old child. Reading books with children is one of the best ways to increase language. Start with books that contain real photographs of your child’s favorite. For example, if the child loves cars, take that book that shows cars or vehicles’ images.

Useful strategies

The selection of strategy is based on the child’s age and cognition level. Following strategies can be used:

  • Narrate,
  • Parallel Talk,
  • Self-Talk
  • Rephrase & Simplify

If you keep working on this, you should get to where the child will easily sit down with you and pay attention to something you pick out. This will allow you to start teaching the child new skills and new concepts.

If the child is sharing attention with you, it’s time to work on attention span. 


Estabrooks, W., MacIver-Lux, K., & Rhoades, E. A. (Eds.). (2016). Auditory-verbal therapy: For young children with hearing loss and their families, and the practitioners who guide them. Plural Publishing.

Gavrilov, Y., Rotem, S., Ofek, R., & Geva, R. (2012). Socio-cultural effects on children’s initiation of joint attention. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 6(286),1-10.

Mundy, P., & Newell, L. (2007). Attention, joint attention, and social cognition. Current directions in psychological science16(5), 269-274.

Woods, J. & Wetherby, A. (2008). Early identification of and intervention for infants and toddlers who are at risk for autism spectrum disorder. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, vol. 34, p.180-193.


Skully · May 25, 2021 at 10:24 pm

I love it! The website look so colorful and organized. Your blogs seems to be fun and informative

    Farheen · May 27, 2021 at 3:27 am

    Thank you so much.

    Shania Adnan · August 4, 2021 at 6:04 pm

    I love the content!. The color of websites and logo . Its worth reading and very pleasing to eyes. Images are really attractive.. overall it good package.. definitely recommend my friends

      Farheen · August 10, 2021 at 4:41 pm

      Thank you so much. Your time & your recommendations are highly appriciated

Muneeb · June 1, 2021 at 7:51 am

Very important topic discussed in detail and explained in easy words. Keep writing on such topics.

    Farheen · June 1, 2021 at 10:44 am

    Thanks for encouraging and appriciating.

Ambreen Naz · June 3, 2021 at 2:29 pm

Worth reading article! Love your colour full and organized website. Easy to browse. It is worth mentioning here that writer’s response towards your personal queries is prompt, detailed and fantastic. Please keep writing and sharing amazing stuff with your readers. I am desperately waiting for the new article to read.👏

Khushboo · June 4, 2021 at 4:07 pm

Very informative. Points made are truely logical. Thanks for such indeapth information on the topic.

Farheen · June 30, 2021 at 3:35 pm

thank you so much

Ashley · July 3, 2021 at 2:13 pm

Never heard of this. Thank you for the information and tips!

    Farheen · July 3, 2021 at 2:54 pm

    Thank you so much. Keep connected for more tips and tricks.

vorbelutr ioperbir · December 4, 2023 at 10:55 pm

Excellent website. Lots of helpful information here. I’m sending it to some friends ans additionally sharing in delicious. And certainly, thanks in your sweat!

Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *