Attention, Autism and the Classroom Setting

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How does a therapist encourage the child to pay attention in class?

Attention, Autism and the Classroom Setting

One of the most important tasks that a therapist has in the classroom setting is to encourage on-task behavior. There is a fine line between using interventions to keep a child on task and academic support. It is crucial that the TSS does not cross that line. For example, the child may need guidance to help with writing. The therapist may provide hand-over-hand prompts to help the child get started. However, the child has to draw the letters independently. The TSS should not guide the child's hands after initially prompting him to write. Interventions for attention in the classroom have to be as unobtrusive as possible. Too many prompts will only distract everyone in the room, including the teacher. Verbal cues should be kept to a minimum and visual aids like gestures and pictures need to be used sparingly. Specific guidelines for appropriate interventions for attention in the classroom setting are outlined in the child's treatment plan. The TSS also collects data concerning the amount of time that the child is able to attend to a task as well as how many prompts are required to keep him on task. Rewards that are commonly used during home therapies are usually not administered in the classroom setting except for extreme cases. The child may earn tokens that can be traded in for rewards at a later time.



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