Attention and Engagement

Last Updated 15:09 27/07/2020

Attention and Engagement is an intervention model which aims to develop natural and spontaneous communication through the use of visually based and highly motivating activities. The primary objective is that the sessions are fun and “offer an irresistible invitation to learn”!

Aims of Attention and Engagement
  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 and Engagement

The Attention and Engagement 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 to Focus Attention

A bucket 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. Some children are then invited to have a turn but only if they are comfortable to do so. Not every child in the group will get a turn, which then teaches 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.


Parents/Carers Role:
Within the group:
  • Allow your child to move around the room if they want and as long as there is no risk of then hurting themselves.  If they try to enter the tough tray or reach for activity items the therapist will pause the activity and wait for you to bring them back to you.
  • Model good attention to activities  
  • Feel free to comment such as wow, uh oh, bubble, splash, etc.
At home:
  • Reduce distractions
  • Use the whiteboard to outline what is going to happen
  • Carry out the Bucket activity daily
  • Create play routines, add key language using single words, repeat the routine once they are familiar with it to build anticipation and pause to create opportunities for your child to respond.

Gradually increase the length of activities and the number of sequential activities to include stages 2-4 as advised by the therapist.

acrobat-icon.jpg  The above text can be downloaded as a PDF document here.

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