How to help her focus?

Hi new to the whole process. My daughter was diagnosed with autism - she is 3 she is on the spectrum, she doesn't eat food, but will eat cereal and snacks. She also isn't speaking like a normal 3 year old. We haven't started therapy yet but your place is on the list we had gotten from the doctor. Would like to know, what can I do to help my daughter learn and focus for a little longer than her normal time of 2 minutes, than getting distracted.

From your message there are a few things going on that’s causing you concern - feeding issues, delayed speech/language development and decreased attention span. All of those things can have a myriad of causes, so it’s hard to give specific advice without meeting you all and getting some more information. Naturally I’d suggest contacting a registered Speech-Language pathologist, although I’m sure your doctor already gave you some information.

To improve attention span, you can start by addressing her sensory needs. I’d recommend an OT visit in the first instance to help determine the cause of the attention issues. If it’s sensory related, he/she will work with you to develop a sensory diet if needed, which just means a plan for providing specific sensory opportunities for your daughter throughout the day, to give her what she needs to help her develop in the most functional way possible.

For now you can encourage attention by singing action songs like Wheels on The Bus, Twinkle Twinkle etc, where she has a chance to incorporate movement. You can also use activities like bubbles, playing in water or other sensory media (eg sand), and try to increase the amount of time she’s playing with it. You can also do simple activities like puzzles, but you put in all the pieces except for one or two, and have her do those. As her attention expands she will be able to do more pieces in one go.

Overall, I would recommend the OT and SLP visits in the first instance to get a baseline, and then determine what’s the best way to go forward.

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