Tips On How To Help Your Special Needs Child Focus

I am not an expert or doctor or therapist or trained in any way. I’m just a mom of a special needs kid who is on the autism spectrum, has communication issues, has problems regulating emotions, and has difficulty focusing.

“Can you just sit still and focus?!”

– Me, talking to Ayub every 5 minutes.

Ayub has always had problems with focus. He’s very easily distracted by everything around him. His senses are just infinitely sharper than the rest of us. He picks up conversations from tables nearby and thus misses the conversation we’re actually having in front of him. He sees a bird fly by the window and he’s forgotten he’s holding a spoonful of food in his hand until I remind him to eat.

Over the past few weeks, his teacher has been letting me know that his focus has gone from bad to worse. He just isn’t doing his work. Bare in mind the school he attends is child-led and completely up to the kid to learn at their own pace. So when his teacher is saying raising this issue then you know the kid ain’t doing nothing in class.

I asked him about it and he said he’s just so distracted. All the kids have their own laptops and get to choose which programs they work on. There is no distraction there.

Why does my child get distracted so easily?

I brought it up with his occupational therapist after his session and she explained why he’s like this.

Ayub (and other attention deficit/ADHD people) need to move their bodies in order to think. Without movement, there’s no focus on thought. By moving a part of his body, he’s able to block out distractions around him and focus on the task at hand.

So if they’re made to sit still, the outside world is going to distract them in ways other people simply cannot comprehend.

Here are the therapist’s tips to help a child focus:

It’s all about keeping a part of their body busy, thus blocking out other distractions, and helping the brain to focus.

1. Fidget spinner

Keeping his hands occupied is good way to help him listen to a teacher during a lesson or a talk. Not so great when it comes to homework and classwork because obviously he needs his hands to do things. I just recently bought him a fidget spinner. It’s very precious to him. I’m not sure if he’s using the way it’s intended to be used though. Lol.

2. Sensory cushion

This is either a bouncy or gel cushion to be placed on top of a chair. It helps movement because the child can wiggle and move and do what they need to do. I’m contemplating getting this for Ayub.

special needs kid focus attention adhd

3. Rubber band chair

A chair leg band is where you pull a large (yoga) band or small rubber bands connected into a chain across the two legs of the chair. This creates something for the kid to push and pull with using their legs. Ayub’s therapist suggested this for him because it’s inexpensive and has worked well on her other clients. I feel like he might use this to catapult things across the room and attack his classmates.

4. Wobble chair

A wobble chair (or a swivel chair) allows the kid to move while sitting. But obviously you have to buy one. I’ve found their kinda pricey in Malaysia. Although I do believe Ayub would benefit from it.

special needs kid focus attention adhd

5. Sticky tack or velcro

Something to stick under the kid’s desk to keep their hands busy. I imagine it may be a nuisance to the other kids hearing velcro get pulled repeatedly though. And Ayub still needs his hands to complete his work.

6. Yoga ball

I really like this option too. He can bounce around while he works. I’ve watched him sit through an hour long speech therapy session on a small yoga ball and be able to listen, understand, and follow instructions. Of course he gets so excited that he purposely slides off or throws himself backwards… But I still really like this option. I’ve seen it work.

There are tonnes of other options and you can find them online. But these are the ones I’m working with now.


special needs kid focus attention adhd

This conversation was an eye-opener for me. Again, so much to learn, so far to go. This morning Ayub sat through half his Agama class and disappeared in the second half. We found him hiding under the sofa. He said it was too hard. I think it’s just too boring. And because he’s made to sit still for such a long period of time, he just can’t focus. Plus, it’s just too boring.

Time to get him a squishy cushion I think.

Does you child have problems paying attention and staying in focus? What have you done to help them? Please share with me!

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Laila Zain

Laila is a working mama who married young, had two beautiful boys, went through a shitty divorce, met an amazing man, remarried, and had a beautiful girl. Her eldest boy is a rainbow baby and special needs child. Her second is ridiculously smart. Her baby is a baby.

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