A big challenge for children with Autism is their ability to stay focused. What may take some children 1 hour to accomplish, can take a child with Autism 3 hours. For us, homework is a perfect example of this. We will start off moving quickly and something will distract him. We then have to stop to try and get back on track. This is really what takes the longest, because academically he is strong and can do the homework.
Helping him stay on track and solve the homework problems, has now become my problem too. I have to stay calm and focused to try to figure out the best way to get him on track and ensure that he is truly understanding the material. I can give him the answer, but this won’t help him develop the skills that he needs to have to ensure self sufficiency and long term success. If I show him one way and he doesn’t understand, I try a variety of different ways until I see that he truly understands what we have covered.
Sometimes we both get frustrated, this is when I walk away and take a restroom break to gather my thoughts on how to approach the situation differently. It’s funny but this is where my best thinking happens!
One afternoon we had spent almost 3 hours doing homework, and as I took a much needed break I realized that if I was going to get him to Focus I needed to get focused myself!
I thought about how my son seems to think. If he thinks anything like me then his thoughts run like a spiderweb. One thought can lead to another thought and on to another. My mind is constantly thinking of all of the many different things I am juggling. If our brains are constantly processing so many different things at once, how can we help improve our focus? How do we get through it all?
I always seem to remind myself to focus on one thing at a time.
I have to look at the whole problem and then break it down step by step… what do we do first? Where do we look? etc.
I ask him questions like “What do we do first”? “Where should we look”? This helps us start moving in the right direction.
The same is true for us as parents. Sometimes we want to accomplish so many things, but we won’t accomplish anything if we can’t remain focused. It is so important that we focus on one day at a time. When we improve our focus we can see the answers before us more clearly.
There is always more than one way to achieve a goal. Look at the situation from all angels, make the decision that is more in line with your priorities and goals. Ask yourself:
What can I do today to make the most out of the day? Do the choices and decisions I am making today align with the outcome that I am trying to achieve? Do they align with who I am?
By improving our Focus we will gain better insight as to what we are looking for, and by knowing what we are looking for we will then discover where it is we need to look.