Developing Attention and Communication Skills

Background

WR, is a 5 year old boy was referred to Middletown Centre for Autism to support the development of his attention and communication skills. WR uses non-speech vocalisations, eye-contact and motor mannerisms to display interests, excitement and pleasure.

Triggers 

WR is noted to be an engaging child, who is generally easily directed and enjoys a range of sensory based activities across settings. He does however often function on his own agenda, choosing preferred items and engaging in sensory seeking activity within the environment and often presents with a fleeting attention span and limited engagement.

WR is currently directed using simple verbal commands, physical prompts and a range of everyday functional and representational objects (Objects that represent the task at hand), to explain what is planned and expected from him. It is observed and reported that this is still an area of uncertainty. Further work is required to ascertain a receptive level and method of direction that WR would understand across settings.

Strategies

A range of sensory, behaviour and communication assessments were completed with WR, his parents and school staff. Observations were carried out at home and school. Analysis was combined with the assessment results from the specialist occupational therapist, specialist speech and language therapist and behaviour intervention specialist. 

A number of strategies were implemented to support WR’s attention:

  • The environment was adapted to ensure it wasn’t too bright, loud and distracting displays were reduced
  • WR’s interests were incorporated into activities such as using pictures of his favourite TV character
  • Appropriate sensory strategies were used to help WR stay calm and alert (Link here for sensory resource 
  • Tasks were carefully developed to ensure that WR understood what was expected of him. This included using structured task with a clear beginning and end
  • Music therapy was employed as research suggests that engaging in musical activities such as singing and playing instruments in one-on-one therapy can improve autistic children’s social communication skills and increase brain connectivity in key networks. Music Therapy is when music is used to address emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals. After assessment of the client, the Music Therapist provides treatment that incorporates music such as singing, dancing, or listening to music.