Suggestions for Teaching Attending Skills to an Autistic Child

How to teach attending skills to an child with autism? Attending skills refer to the ability to focus on and actively listen to what is being said by others. This can include giving others undivided attention, maintaining eye contact, nodding in understanding, and using verbal and nonverbal cues to show that you are listening. Attending skills are important in a variety of settings, including interpersonal communication, education, and at the school.

Here are some suggestions for teaching attending skills to an autistic child:

  1. Start by explaining to the child what attending skills are and why they are important. Use simple and clear language that the child can understand, and provide examples of good attending behavior.
  2. Practice attending skills with the child in a variety of situations, such as during a conversation, while watching a TV show or movie, or while listening to a story. Encourage the child to use good attending behaviors, such as maintaining eye contact, nodding, and using verbal and nonverbal cues to show understanding.
  3. Provide positive reinforcement for good attending behavior. This can include praising the child, giving them a sticker or other reward, or simply expressing your approval and encouragement.
  4. Use visual aids to help the child understand and practice attending skills. For example, you could use a picture of a person listening to show what good attending looks like, or create a simple checklist of attending behaviors for the child to follow.
  5. Be patient and consistent in teaching attending skills. Remember that it may take time for the child to develop and use these skills effectively, so be prepared to provide ongoing support and guidance.

Here is the some of the effective strategies and activities ideas you can use to teach attending skills to students with autism :

Structured Worksheets:

Create worksheets that require focused attention to detail. These can include finding differences between two pictures, completing patterns, or simple word finds. Use visual cues and clear instructions to guide the student.

Download Find the Difference Worksheet

Find the Difference Coloring Worksheet

Complete the Pattern Worksheet

Continue the Pattern Worksheet

Finding Words Worksheet

Interactive Games:

Simple board games that require taking turns can help develop attending skills. Memory games, where students match pairs of cards, can improve both attention and memory.

Visual Schedules:

Use visual schedules to help the student understand and anticipate what comes next in their day. This can improve their ability to focus on the current activity.

Sensory Activities:

Sensory bins or tactile activities can be very engaging for some students with autism, helping them to focus on the task at hand.

Token Economy Systems:

Implement a token economy system where the student earns tokens for demonstrating good attending behavior. These tokens can be exchanged for a reward.

Break Tasks into Smaller Steps:

For more complex tasks, break them down into smaller, more manageable steps. This can help keep the student focused and less overwhelmed.

Modeling and Role Play:

Model the desired attending behavior. Role-playing different scenarios can also be a helpful strategy.

Social Stories:

Create or use existing social stories that illustrate the importance of paying attention and the steps involved in doing so.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques:

Simple mindfulness exercises can help improve focus and concentration. These might include deep breathing exercises or guided imagery.

It’s also important to work closely with the child’s teachers and other professionals who are involved in their care, to ensure that attending skills are being taught and reinforced in multiple settings. This can help the child develop these skills more effectively and apply them in their everyday life.

Alphabet Letter Writing Games

Letter Writing Game

Number Writing Games

Number Writing Game

Animal Coloring Game

Animal Coloring Game

Jigsaw Puzzle Game

Jigsaw Puzzle Game

Joining Halves Game

Joining Halves Game

Matching Shadow Game