Top 5 Ways to Help Your Child with Autism with Focus and Attention

The world can be a wild and crazy place. There are so many things happening all at the same time in your home including: phones ringing, conversations, televisions and tablets running in the background, food cooking, music playing, and the list goes on and on. Not everyone is a multi-tasker, yet in terms of focusing on tasks, we tend to ask so much of our children…this just may not be realistic or reasonable.

Try these strategies to help your child focus and pay attention to specific tasks:

  1. Turn off any distractions around him. Make sure that the television or any music is not playing in the background. Many families find comfort with the TV running all day long. Even if it is muted, the lights and even the slightest white noise can distract your child. If he has sensory challenges (which most kids with autism have), then he may even hear the TV from the other room at the same volume as your voice which is right next to him.
  2. Get rid of any scented plug-ins, perfumes, or candles. Smells can be very distracting for your child. If he is trying to focus on a task, and there is a smelly plug-in in the same room, he may not be able to think of anything but that scent.
  3. Be aware of the lighting in the room. Sunlight, and light from lamps and fluorescents can play tricks on your child’s eyes. If your child needs to focus on a task such as homework, do not put him under these lights. Minimize distractions by seating him away from a window.
  4. Make sure you have your child’s attention before talking to him. Say his name, tap him on the shoulder, and/or get on his eye-level. You can even ask, “Johnny, are you listening to me?” Make sure you get a response before talking to him. Many kids with autism do not respond to their name. It’s possible that he is hearing something else at the same volume as your voice. There are so many distractions around him, so be sure you have his attention before making any demands.
  5. Incorporate movement and exercise into his day. By encouraging your child to move around, especially before an in-seat task, you are respecting his needs. All children need movement to help them focus, but your child with autism needs it even more. Encourage exercises like jumping jacks, bouncing on a trampoline, running in place, push-ups, sit-ups, and just dancing to music. Then, request that your child sit down to focus on a task.

By trying these 5 strategies, you are setting your child up for success so that he can focus and pay attention to specific tasks.

Please share with us, what does your child have the most difficult time focusing on at home?

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Jennifer Lingle, M.Ed.

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  • FAFA
    Posted at 10:22h, 08 August Reply


  • Franca salame
    Posted at 13:00h, 29 June Reply

    My child was diagnosed with ADHD. Mild . We have been struggling with bathroom bowel movement issues. I do t think his diagnoses has anything to go with this but need help. He does have sensory issues. He’s a 5 year old boy very smart understands everything.

  • Erica Reid
    Posted at 10:24h, 08 May Reply

    Hi, I have an 8 yr. old son. I would like for him to gravitate his focus and attention for things that are not of interest to him. So he does very well (but of course) with things of navigating the internet to find things that’s of interest to him, or he would be focused and very attentive while playing or putting things together. *Ex. Legos, block train sets, even coding games on the computer. He would spend hours doing what he likes. We all would if we could. But then there is schoolwork and small chores like cleaning your area of play/his room. I don’t ask for much, all I ask of him is to spend some time 20 min max to reading books, physically or even virtually on the computer. Then, He’ll lose all interest and focus and start looking around, tapping fingers and toes fidgets around especially if the task of any does not please him. I restrict all outputs until schoolwork is done. He can get very reluctant having to do things he doesn’t want to do. Everything surrounding us can become the distraction. Are there any tips to help?

    • Jennifer Lingle
      Posted at 11:51h, 08 May Reply

      Thank you for the question Erica. You are right that we all tend to gravitate and spend more time on activities that are of interest to us. The great news is that you are very clear on what your son enjoys…use this to your advantage. Create a visual schedule that includes undesired and desired activities. Always follow something undesirable, with something he enjoys. Put time frames around the activities, so he knows how long he has to work on something before he gets the fun activity. You could also use a timer. My go-to-phrase is…when in doubt, write it out. Make your expectations visually clear to help set him up for success. I hope that helps. Feel free to email me at with additional questions.

  • Luvmysons
    Posted at 07:53h, 08 June Reply

    Thank you, I have to tell you this has made significant difference in the past month. Excellent tips we are making some progress.

    • Jennifer Lingle
      Posted at 13:33h, 08 June Reply

      Oh I am so glad to hear! Please let me know if you have any other questions or need additional support.

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