Entertaining Your Child Helps Them Connect and Learn

“Connecting and relating to other people is the key to enhancing your special child’s ability to participate and be a part of the world around them. Being able to attend to and sustain their focus on another person is a prerequisite to your child being able to learn: more language, have peer interactions, and learn from a teacher, to name a few…

“Your child on the autism spectrum has a challenge with social interaction, so how can you help them with this skill?

“One incredibly useful and powerful way to inspire your child to stay connected with you is to use The Son-Rise Program® technique of Entertaining! 

“Entertaining your special child means:

– “Giving your child something fun to look at and attend to.
– “Putting on a show for your child.
– “Being compelling and exciting to your child.
– “Doing fun actions without directly asking anything of your child.

“When can you Entertain your child on the autism spectrum?

“When your child is in a Green Light. A Green Light is when your child spontaneously shows an interest in you. This could be when they look at you, smile at you, pay attention to you, talk to you, or move toward you somehow. The timing of when you Entertain your child is just as important as the technique of Entertaining itself. This is because when your child is in a Green Light, they are more available and able to take you in and engage with you. You want to make it as effortless as possible for your child to engage with you so they can enjoy the process of connecting.

“Ways to entertain your special child from the Autism Treatment Center of America®:

  • “Sing their favorite song in a funny accent or character voice.
  • “Make a stuffed animal and tell them a silly story.
  • “Offer them something they already love (a head rub, a drawing of their favorite character, a magazine about cars, etc.)
  • “Do a funny, slapstick action, like pretending to bump into the wall, falling asleep and letting out a big snore, or pretending your shoe is stuck on your foot.

“Important note: There is no ‘right’ way to Entertain your child on the autism spectrum. What matters is that you enjoy yourself and don’t ask your child to do anything. Honing this skill of giving your child a visual, fun way to engage with you is the beginning of learning all the other things you want to help them with.

“This may seem like a simple, unimportant technique to use with your child on the autism spectrum. But when you Entertain your child, you will invite them to lengthen their Interactive Attention Span (the length of time they attend to another person). Remember, the longer your child can engage with another person, the more they learn from those around them. So while you Entertain your child, they also learn essential social skills from you that will allow them to participate more with the rest of the world.”

Becky Damgaard, Senior Son-Rise Program Teacher

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