To extend the ability to attend to stimuli and activities.
Areas of learning:
Improving joint attention
Develop shared enjoyment in group activities
Increasing attention in adult-led activities
Encouraging spontaneous interaction in a natural group setting
Increasing non-verbal and verbal communication through commenting
Building a wealth and depth of vocabulary
Stage 1 – Bucket/Bin
A bucket is filled with visually engaging objects and toys, aiming to gain the shared attention of the group. The adult leader shows each item to the group and uses simple repetitive vocabulary to comment on the various objects. The lead adult can react to noises and comments from the children. All other adults must remain silent.
Stage 2 – The attention builder
Visually stimulating activities are shown to the group by the adult leader, aiming to sustain attention for a longer period. The activities are fun, visually engaging and can often involve delightful mess!
Stage 3 – Turn taking and re-engaging attention
The adult leader demonstrates a simple activity, often modelled with another adult in the group. Some children are then invited to have a turn but only if they are comfortable to do so. Not every child in the group will get a turn, which then teaches important emotional regulation skills, as well as the essential skills of waiting, turn-taking and learning through modelling.
Stage 4 – Shifting and re-engaging attention
Stage 4 aims to develop the skill of engaging and shifting attention. The adult leader demonstrates a simple creative task, and then gives each child an individual kit to copy the task. The children take their kits to a table, complete the task independently, and then everyone returns to the group to show their completed tasks.
More complex skills can be introduced as confidence and social skills develop e.g. sharing materials, working with a partner, problem solving.
Attention Autism principles can then be generalised to curriculum activities (e.g. literacy and numeracy) to facilitate learning and skill development.