Joint Attention (JA) is a milestone in human communication that typically appears in the first year of life. Communication in JA serves as a developmental platform for a number of socio-cognitive competences. Most research in JA has focused on the visual modality as shown mainly in distal interactions. Communication in JA, however, integrates the input from several sensory modalities and includes both distal and proximal interactions. Results presented in this talk are part of a project that carried out a systematic investigation of JA in young children with multisensory impairments (deafblindness). Findings indicate that atypical sensory trajectories to JA can fulfil typical functionality in regulating other’s attention, intentions and in sharing an understanding of the world. They reveal JA as a multisensory phenomenon where visual, auditory, tactile and proprioceptive input is exchanged and integrated within the communication event in a fluid manner. Deafblind JA directs our gaze to what is ‘typically’ overlooked in the literature of typical development. This redirected look makes us think that a multisensory, dynamic view of JA would better account for its key role in socio-cognitive development.
María Núñez is a developmental psychologist with research expertise in early socio-cognitive development. Dr Nunez completed her PhD in Madrid (UAM), held a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Dept. of Experimental Psychology (University of Oxford) and worked as a Lecturer in Psychology at the Universities of Kent and of Glasgow Caledonian (GCU); she leads the Toddler and Pre-schooler Lab and is a founding member of SARG (http://www.sarg.ed.ac.uk/). Recently she has started a research collaboration with Sense who commissioned her work to look at the early communication of children with multisensory impairments (MSI). Currently she is a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Portsmouth and at the IoPP (King’s College, London) where she is carrying out a new project on the communication and sensory profiles of young children with MSI and with ASD.