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Attention Autism

by Amy Hargreaves Guest Blogger

What is it?

Attention Autism is an approach developed by Gina Davies that aims to develop spontaneous and natural communication through the use of highly motivating objects and activities. It is an approach used within schools, nurseries and also speech and language therapy sessions. By capturing and developing the child’s attention you are developing early communication skills. Attention is needed during communication for example to be able to listen, to reply and, in later development, to continue a back and forth conversation.

Attention Autism is a group activity, with adults being used to role model attention as well as supporting the child whilst the lead adult leads the activities. Ideas for using Attention Autism at home could include siblings, cousins, aunties, uncles and other family and friends to model the attention and support the child. The aim is on engagement and attention however the child demonstrates this, for example from afar, sitting down or moving around.

Further aims of Attention Autism include:

  • To engage attention

  • To improve joint attention

  • To increase attention in adult led activities

  • To develop shared enjoyment in group activities

  • To increase verbal and non verbal communication

  • To build a wealth of vocabulary

Stages of Attention Autism

Attention Autism is split into stages

Stage 1: The Bucket (or box or any container you can find)

Stage 2: The Attention Builder

Stage 3: The Interactive Game

Stage 4: Independent Working

Stage 1: The Bucket

The lead adult will work through a series of 3-4 engaging toys commenting simply on each one with the aim to increase attention, engagement and vocabulary. The song also helps to encourage engagement and capture attention. Here I have used highly engaging fidget toys sold in the Sensory Submarine online shop.

Stage 2: The Attention Builder

A highly engaging and stimulating activity is used here to capture the child’s attention. Here I have used crazy foaming soap (sold in the Sensory Submarine online shop) and flower pots to create flower pot worms.

Stage 3: The Interactive Game

This is where turn taking is developed. The idea that the child will take a turn if they wish to within the group activity. Any group activity can be used. Again, one that is highly motivating to the child will encourage the child to participate and one that is as highly motivating to watch as it is to participate in. Here I have used hidden puzzle pieces in shredded paper with the idea to take turns finding a piece of the puzzle. The puzzle can be found on the Sensory Submarine online shop along with other puzzles to choose from.

Stage 4: Independent Working

When the child has progressed to stage four the adult will model an activity and then the child will be given the activity and a set of instructions so that they can complete the activity alone. This encourages independence. The activity again needs to be engaging and highly motivating.

You can even use the same activity twice as I have here. I modelled the activity in stage 3 and then gave the activity to the child in stage 4.

As with all approaches, it is best to speak to your child’s setting, doctor, speech therapist or paediatrician who can point you in the correct direction for your child. Training courses and further information are available on the Gina Davies Website.

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