• The latest advice, articles, hints and tips from the Gina Davies Autism Centre
    Gina Davies Autism Centre Blog The latest advice, articles, hints and tips from the Gina Davies Autism Centre

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The Attention Autism Programme

Foundation Level Two-Day training course – the original Attention Autism Programme

This two day course equips attendees with the skills to set up and run the 4 Stage Attention Autism programme. The training focuses on the practical aspects of intervention, working in a team and offering an irresistible invitation to learn. The Attention Autism programme targets the teaching of attention, communication and social interaction skills. Training is run applying the principles of the attention autism programme throughout each day. There are demonstrations of the techniques in action, films of the work with children, practical hands-on experience for participants and ideas for activities. The intention is to share the practical skills needed for participants to feel confident in setting up and running the intervention immediately.

The two days are usually booked with several weeks in between the Day 1 and Day 2 to allow attendees to set up and start the intervention using the first two stages before returning to learn the rest of the programme. However the 2 day training can be run back to back if travel expense or time demands. Many settings begin with the Day 1 training and then go on to book the Day 2 when they feel ready or when budgets allow. We try our best to be flexible!

The workshops are run for groups of 25 people (with a maximum of 30 attendees if agreed in advance), this is to ensure that the practical aspects of the workshop can be run in small groups making coaching and feedback effective.

Attention Autism Day 1 Workshop

Day 1 Explores the impact of autism spectrum disorders on the development of attention skills and the impact this has on a child’s ability to learn both 1:1 and in a group. We identify ways the learning strengths of children can be exploited and how fragile new skills can be developed. The workshop sets out the first two stages of the 4 stage Attention Autism programme; Stage 1 Focusing Attention, Stage 2 Sustaining attention. The workshop provides practical hands-on opportunities for the attendees to try out activities at each stage and discuss application of the programme within their setting or service.

Attention Autism Day 2 Workshop

Day 2 Explores the ways in which communication development can be targeted and nurtured within sessions ensuring the needs of the children can be sensitively met whether preverbal, non-verbal able to speak. The focus is on building functional social communication, understanding and spontaneous communication. The intervention looks at the power of shared good times for building engaged learning and trusting relationships where interaction, problem communication and learning can flourish. The workshop provides an opportunity to solve any issues that have arisen in application of the first 2 stages of the programme in practice and then introduces Stage 3 Shifting Attention and Stage 4 focusing, sustaining and shifting attention including a transition to independent working. Methods for planning and recording sessions, and linking the intervention to the curriculum and personalised planning for a child is incorporated into the day. Ideas and activities are shared and the attendees are then ready to set up and run the full programme!

Introductory training over two days

  • The practicalities of an intervention that is motivating for both adults and children
  • The methodology and practice that underpins the intervention
  • Demonstration of the techniques in action
  • Using film footage, examples of each stage of the programme in action with children
  • Ideas for activities
  • Practical hands-on-experience and coaching with activities
  • Problem solving
  • Strategies for individualising the intervention
  • Differentiating targets within a group setting to meet individual needs
  • Adaptations for those working 1:1 with children
  • Using the programme with mixed SEN groups


  • An understanding of how to engage children with autism
  • How to teach children with autism to focus, sustain and shift their attention
  • An understanding of how to teach, encourage and support communication
  • An understanding of how to foster group learning skills
  • An understanding of how to embed early social interaction skills into group work
  • How to set up and run the intervention with groups of children
  • How to nurture the supporting team working with you
  • How to modify and adapt levels of stimulation/distraction in a group setting
  • How to use shared good times with the group and staff team working together in highly engaging activities to build relationships and trust
  • A framework that encourages breadth and depth in learning for those who find linear progression challenging
  • To provide activities with a high density of learning opportunities

Benefits to the staff team

Confident and fluent use of:        

  • Dynamic visually supported communication skills
  • Adapted and modified language to increase understanding and spontaneous expressive communication
  • Engagement as a fundamental technique for tackling behaviour problems
  • Techniques that encourage children to develop self regulation skills
  • Demonstration and modelling
  • Delivery of activities that inspire children’s attention and motivate communication
  • Techniques and activities that target individual and curriculum objectives

Importantly this approach will help you plant shared good memories that underpin good relationships, communication and learning.

Create exciting and joyful times together – the best way for everyone to learn!



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