How to improve your autistic child’s concentration
Improving your autistic child’s concentration is the next step after you have established his visual schedule.
Concentration is the intense attention used in learning a task, and the ability to ignore other distractions in the environment.
To improve your autistic child’s concentration, you need to follow these simple steps:
Eliminate distractions. I make sure that I put away anything that will distract my son’s attention before we start an activity.
Ensure eye contact when giving instructions. I always maintain eye contact to John to enable him to simulate what I’m doing. This should be consistent for him to continue maintaining his eye contact.
Break instructions into simple steps and don’t give too many at one given time. I always give brief instructions to John when we are doing an activity so he could understand what I am saying. I use a visual aid for support.
Talk to your child in a soft, calm voice.John doesn’t want loud noises, so when I talk to him I make sure that my voice is not loud for him to hear and doesn’t sound restricted and firm.
Make the activity as motivating as possible. I’m trying to encourage John all the time when we are doing an activity by breaking it into achievable steps then allowing John to have a short rest period between each step. I use a reward sticker for every step he has accomplished. This will further encourage him to concentrate and complete the whole tasks.
Alternate active activities with sitting and concentration skills. If John and I have a playtime activity in the park, I alternate this with an activity that requires concentration at home. I used PECS in our home activity.
Once we established an activity, we moved alternately between difficult and easy tasks. I utilised a visual scheduleto keep John on task. It is a reminder for what steps of the task are required and for how long he needs to concentrate.
Use verbal prompts or touch prompts to gain attention. I always do this to John so he won’t lose focus.
Find activities that your child will really enjoy and mixed these with the not so enjoyable. Enjoyment of a task will lead to motivation to stick with it longer. John enjoys playing lego and playdough. These are also good in improving his fine motor skill development.
Have a series of tasks set out and move in an orderly fashion from one to the next.Be prepared to quickly move from one task onto the next if behaviour problems arise from the task being too difficult or easy. I make sure that John doesn’t get bored with any activity that we are doing.
Involve yourself with your child’s game or task at hand and keep him at this activity as long as you can without him becoming negative or losing concentration. I always go for an activity that will help John to further develop his concentration. I used lego and floor puzzles for this play activity.
Poor attention may be related to difficulty in completing a task. I always try to make sure to start an activity that is easy to follow before going to the hard ones which John will need more help in concentrating.
By following these simple steps your child’s concentration on a task will improve thus allowing him to do a task, which he will enjoy doing independently.
Using a reward program by giving tangible rewards and utilising positive reinforcements through giving lots of praises to a particular task done is a helpful way of motivating your child to concentrate on a particular task at hand. I will be discussing this further in my next post.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave your comments below and will try to come back to you as soon as I can.
Using a reward program for your autistic child at home is a way of giving your child extra support which is targeted on specific behaviors. This will encourage him to try again if he did not meet his target.
Giving praises or positive reinforcements towards a good behaviorwill also encourage your child with autism to concentrate and follow every instruction you will give him towards a particular task.
Having a system that works for you and your child will help your child to concentrate and follow consistently the task at hand.
Rewards programnot only helps achieve this but it is also good in modifying the behavior of your child with autism.
This has helped my son, John in performing a specific task at home and also has helped him think about his behavior.
How to use a reward program at home
Choose a particular behavior you would like your child to change. You need to talk about this with your child to make sure that it is clear to him what target behavior that he needs to change. For example, I told my son that I don’t like him always screaming when he is asking for something or does not like something. I use a visual aid to add support on what I am asking him to do. I showed him a picture of a child screaming and put my thumbs down as a gesture of saying “no”. I even showed him a picture of an X mark as a symbol of “no”.
Try to make sure that it is a target that your child will likely to succeed at. Success will give your child a reason to carry on behaving well, but failure can just be a reason to give up trying. Change targets once your child has achieved the first one or if you find that it’s too difficult to achieve. I make sure that the target behavior that I set for John is achievable so that he may not get upset and give up easily.
Before you begin, take some time to discuss with your child what rewards he would like to earn. Agree a few smaller rewards and one special one. I utilized John’s toys e.g. Lego, puzzles, play dough, small cars as a prize for behaving well. I will let him choose which toy he wanted to play as a prize. I told him that if he will continue to behave well, he would get a special prize. This special prize may be a trip to the park or a cinema.
Using a reward chart as a record for every good behavior may be helpful but this needs consistency in order to be successful. Every good behavior accomplished could be marked in a sticker chart. The more sticker your child sees, the more he will be encouraged to continue doing an activity that you will ask him to do. If you want to avail a free printable sticker chart, please click this.
In summary, reward programs are a good way to help your child concentrate and maintain a good behavior in doing a specific task at home. These should be reinforced by constant praising for good behavior. For example, if John wants something, he won’t scream in order to catch my attention instead he will point to me or say the word for the thing that he wants me to get. I will acknowledge his good behavior by saying to him, “Well done for not screaming”.
By doing this, you are giving your child the greatest reward that he should receive which is your constant love and support for him.
Positive reinforcementby acknowledging good behaviors is a good way of helping your child to maintain positive behaviors thereby allowing him to concentrate on every task that you ask him to do.
On my next post, I will be writing about the ways you could help your child improve his fine motor skills.
If you have any comments, suggestions or clarifications on how to use a reward program at home, please feel free to leave your comments below and I will try to answer back as soon as I can.