Children on the Autism Spectrum may not show great interest in watching and interacting with others. As we learn many things from our social environment and from attending to others, this decreased interest may reduce learning opportunities and relationship building. But there are strategies parents can use to step into their child’s attentional spotlight and strengthen their interactions. By learning and understanding what your child is attending to, interested in, or has preferences for, parents can join into their child’s world by following their child’s lead and capitalising on their motivations. Parents can then enter their child’s play by watching and understanding their child’s goals, assisting the child in achieving their goals, narrating and introducing simple language into play, imitating their child during play, and being a responsive play partner. Over time, as you join with your child throughout everyday interactions, children will learn to engage in joint attention, maintain their attention for longer, and most importantly, pay attention to you! Hence, by using these strategies, you can step into your child’s attentional spotlight and expand their social awareness, providing ongoing opportunities for them to learn and engage with the world around them.
This article was written based on Rogers, S. J., Dawson, G., & Vismara, L. A. (2012). An early start for your child with autism: Using everyday activities to help kids connect, communicate, and learn. Guilford Press.