By Becky Damgaard, Son-Rise Program® Senior Teacher
Simply put, Interactive Attention Span is our children being able to be present with another person for a period of time (they could be watching us, smiling at us, participating with us, etc). Our children’s interactive attention spans can vary from just a few seconds, to a few minutes or more, depending on whether they are giving us red lights or green lights and how motivated they are for what we offer them on a green light. There are many wonderful techniques that we teach in order to first identify our children’s red lights and green lights, and then how to expand the length of their interactive attention span.
One way is to simply entertain them when they give you a green light. There are several things that you can do to entertain, but I’m going to share a simple one. Become your child’s favorite animal! Last week I was working in The Son-Rise Program playroom with a delightful 5-year-old boy, and this idea worked like a dream. At one point he gave me a look that lasted several seconds. So I started barking like a dog, and stood on all fours, he smiled, I started howling with my front “paws” held high in the air. He giggled. I pranced around in a circle like a dog excited to get a bone, and he looked again. He was in an interaction with me and giving me consistent green lights! I panted, I rolled over, I chased him, I sat and begged, and the part he loved the very most was sniffing the floor all the way over to him and then sniffing the back of his neck in a fun and animated way. He belly laughed at that that part! We played this game 2-3 times for up to 12 minutes at a time.
Often we think we need to buy the best toy for our kids, or think of the most creative idea in the world to offer them, but this is an example of where simpler is better!
At The Son-Rise Program, we see Autism as a social relational challenge. Therefore, instead of working on teaching our children certain behaviors or focusing on an academic curriculum, we work on the very core challenge they have…..HUMAN INTERACTION.