Authors: Patten E, Watson LR
Title: Interventions targeting attention in young children with autism
Source: American Journal of Speech Language Pathology 2011 20(1): 60-69
Year: 2011
Research Design: Systematic Review

Purpose: The ability to focus and sustain one's attention is critical for learning. Children with autism demonstrate unusual characteristics of attention from infancy. It is reasonable to assume that early anomalies in attention influence a child's developmental trajectories. Therapeutic interventions for autism often focus on core features of autism such as communication and socialization, while very few interventions specifically address attention. The purpose of this article is to provide clinicians a description of attention characteristics in children with autism and discuss interventions thought to improve attention. Method: Characteristics of attention in children with autism are presented. Intervention studies featuring measures of attention as an outcome variable for young children with autism are reviewed to present interventions that have empirical evidence for improvements in attention. Results are synthesized by strategy, specific feature of attention targeted, and results for both habilitative goals and accommodations for attention. Conclusion: Although research is not extensive, several strategies to support attention in young children with autism have been investigated. The empirical findings regarding these strategies can inform evidence-based practice.

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