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Kirkleatham Hall School

"Unlocking Potential"

Attention Autism

Attention Autism is an intervention model designed by Gina Davies, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist. It aims to develop natural and spontaneous communication through the use of visually based and highly motivating activities. It is used to help encourage joint attention, engagement and focus on activities that may not be of the child’s choosing. It can also be used to introduce new skills, develop independence and build vocabulary and experiences.


Aims of Attention Autism

  1. To engage attention
  2. To improve joint attention
  3. To develop shared enjoyment in group activities
  4. To increase attention in adult-led activities
  5. To encourage spontaneous interaction in a natural group setting
  6. To increase non-verbal and verbal communication through commenting
  7. To build a wealth and depth of vocabulary
  8. To have fun!


Stages of Attention Autism

The Attention Autism programme progresses through a series of stages, building on each skill level. Each new stage is introduced when the group is ready to expand attention skills.


  • Stage 1: The Bucket (or any container) to Focus Attention

A bucket (or any container) is filled with visually engaging objects and toys, aiming to gain the shared attention of the group. The adult leader shows each item to the group and uses simple repetitive vocabulary to comment on the various objects.


  • Stage 2: The Attention Builder

Visually stimulating activities are shown to the group by the adult leader, aiming to sustain attention for a longer period. The activities are fun, visually engaging and can often involve delightful mess!


  • Stage 3: Turn taking & Re-engaging Attention

The adult leader demonstrates a simple activity, often modelled with another adult in the group. The children are then invited to have a turn but only if they are comfortable to do so. We are working towards not giving every child in the group a turn each session, which will develop important emotional regulation skills, as well as the essential skills of waiting, turn-taking and learning through modelling.


  • Stage 4: Shifting & Re-engaging Attention

Stage 4 aims to develop the skill of engaging and shifting attention. The adult leader demonstrates a simple creative task, and then gives each child an individual kit to copy the task. The children take their kits to a table, complete the task independently, and then everyone returns to the group to show their completed tasks. Currently one group of children is working through this stage at different levels.


More complex skills can be introduced as confidence and social skills develop e.g. sharing materials, working with a partner, problem solving.

Attention Autism principles can then be generalised to curriculum activities (e.g. literacy and numeracy) to facilitate learning and skill development.


The sessions have had a HUGE impact around school in a number of different classes. There is always an exciting, messy and, most importantly, fun and engaging session going on somewhere. It really is something that the whole family could get involved with while your children are at home.

Gina Davies has produced a fantastic series of videos which help to explain a bit about what Attention Autism is and some of the strategies that we use in the sessions. They are aimed at supporting parents and carers to have a go at some activities at home.


Each video focuses on a different element of the session and explains clearly what the aim is and strategies you can use yourself.


The video series can be found on the Gina Davies Autism Centre Youtube channel – I’ve added the links to the videos below.

Attention Autism Strategies Video 1. Drawing and getting the message across.

Attention Autism Strategies Video 1 Drawing and getting the message across. We are going to upload short videos about the core Attention autism Strategies, w...

Attention Autism Strategies Video 2. Drawing and making things easier for the children.

Attention Autism Strategies Video 2 Drawing and making things easier for the children. It can feel a bit odd to draw instead of talk but using pictures, symb...

Attention Autism Strategies Video 3

Stage 1 the Bucket This is a bit of explanation for parents about what Stage 1, often called the Bucket! This is the first part of the Attention Autism progr...

Attention Autism Strategies Video 4. What the adults do in a session.

What the adults do in an Attention Autism session In this clip we look at how the adults behave in an Attention Autism session. There are 2 main roles; 1. Th...

Attention Autism Strategies Video 5. When things get tricky.

The tricky bits when the children want to have the toys in Attention Autism Stage 1 and get upset or cross. In Stage 1 it is important that the children are ...

Attention Autism strategies Video 6. Using the ideas in the flow of everyday at home.

In this video I talk about ways you might be able to use the things the child has learned in the Attention Autism sessions to build moments of connection at ...

Attention Autism strategies. Video 7 Using the Attention Autism programme to help at home.

Attention Autism strategies. Video 7 Using the Attention Autism programme to help at home. In this film Clare Moore explores ways in which the familiarity of...

Attention Autism Strategies. Video 8. Stage 2

In this film I explain a little bit about Attention Autism Stage 2, what we are trying to do, how we build vocabulary and build opportunities for spontaneous...

Attention Autism Strategies Film 9 Stage 3

In this film I introduce the way Stage 3 of the Attention Autism Programme works. You can look at some of the Attention Autism Sessions on the YouTube channe...