BloggerSaathi CreativeSaathi

Let’s Pay Attention

Attention and focus, sitting still to finish an activity, be it play or academics, engaging with peers, or to and fro interaction with the person in front seems like a herculean task to most of our children today. Sensory issues, rigidity in behaviour, not open to changes, motor issues etc. in autism or any other developmental delays does nothing to ease out the problem. Why are children so inattentive and either lost in their own world or in the world of gadgets?

When a child is born and is growing day by day, the environment around him provides him with a lot of stimulations. This could be in the form of his mother’s soothing voice, the environmental sound he hears around him (auditory awareness) visual intelligence, his own tactile sense(touch), vestibular sense (movement and balance), proprioceptive (position sense or awareness of sensations from muscle and joints). A child’s presence or the environmental presence as we call it depends on the right processing of these stimulations. To do any activity leave alone academics, the child has to pay attention. Even playing with a peer requires attention.
When children don’t respond to the stimulus or are always fidgety, when they can’t sit for even five minutes at a stretch and are always on the go, we find exasperated parents and teachers going helpless. Poor attention hampers learning at all spheres. Also understand the child himself is also struggling because of lack of attention as he can easily get overwhelmed by this mixture of sensory input he gets and when he can’t make head or tail of it, that’s when you find him going totally berserk or suddenly giving you blank stares by shutting himself down.
So what can be done to get the child’s attention? The techniques listed apply to all children and especially to children with autism. So let’s start from the prerequisites to attention.

Research has shown a strong link between attention and a good gross motor development. Attention is a sign of brain maturity, and like any development or growth of a child it develops sequentially only. A good gross level muscular development means proper muscle strength and it is one of the pre- requisites towards attention, children with lower skills in muscular movements show signs of easy fatigue. So if your child is attention deficit do consult an occupational therapist.

Hyperactivity in some children leading to self-injurious behaviours and in some extreme cases may require medication, but be sure you consult a doctor before you start any medication.

So what are the basics you can check and work on for attention?
o Check on the muscle tone of your child, a weak muscular strength leads to easy fatigue and the child will get tired soon when he has to focus.
o Work on building age appropriate gross motor skills (you can see the age appropriate gross motor skills online or consult your occupational therapist)
o Let your children play, play in the park( climb the monkey bar, hang on it, push and pull objects) (like a chair with some heavy books on it, or lift one kg packets of dal, rice against gravity). Every physical activity leads to greater muscular strength and hence better body awareness, focus and concentration.
o Work on the fine motors too, i.e. the strength and dexterity of fingers so that the child can scribble, colour and write well. This is an essential academic skill.
o Fine motor activities leads to a better pencil or pincer grip helping your child to manipulate small objects, button their shirts, tie their shoe laces. Again you can find hundreds of fine motor activities online.
o A good muscular strength means increase in his attention too, thus leading more mature and confident child.

• Check on instruction following or Auditory Intelligence.
Listening, processing and then responding accurately to the environmental sounds is known as auditory intelligence.

o If a child is not able to understand or process the instructions heard then the child will loose interest.
o Auditory intelligence can be developed by starting with letting your child follow simple one step instructions like give me a hug, sit down, give me the apple (from an array of objects like apple, car and banana)
o The instructions have to be gradually increased e.g. from one step to two steps and so on. Example give me the apple & the car, Close the door, pull a chair & sit down etc.
o Your child should always be exposed to vocabulary, and language to understand language and so be able to focus on what is being said. The more the words in his dictionary, more he will be able to correlate what is being said to him.
o Play music for your child let him be exposed to wide range of rhymes, songs as well as their actions.
o Let him imitate action songs and poems.
o Clap a rhythm, or use a drum, let your child imitate the same rhythm.
The more your child is exposed to sounds the more he would be comfortable in understanding and responding accurately to it.

• Next comes, the Visual Intelligence.
The ability to visualise, process, discriminate and respond accurately to the world, is visual intelligence. There are various activities which can build the visual intelligence of our kids.
o Give them initially activities like matching, sorting of coloured blocks, or shapes etc.
o Finding same or the odd one outs , amongst an array of objects, colours, shapes etc develops good visual discrimination skills.
o Beading initially large ones then smaller ones to string on a wire or shoe lace.
o Activities which include imitation skills both at gross motor level e.g. clapping hands, stomping feet or waving bye and fine motor level like touching thumb to each finger.
o Copying of action rhymes like “wheels on the bus”, or “head shoulders knees and toes” etc. are fun ways to engage your child as well as develop his visual intelligence.
o Copying of building blocks designs, following and replicating patterns and designs all stimulate visual intelligence. There are hundreds if visual perception games available nowadays online as well as in websites like amazon, which develop these skills.
o Mazes, puzzles are also fun ways to develop the visual intelligence of a child.
Remember a child will be only interested to work if he can make sense of what he is seeing.
Children by nature also have a lot of energy and curiosity so that keeps them on their toes always. So before sitting down on table top tasks, the first thing to do is to create an environment for the child,
o Make sure that when you sit down to study or play with your child the room is empty of any distraction. So a room with lots of bright stickers and toys well in view will never help your child to focus, however cute it may look.
o You can later add them slowly as the attention of the child develops, this will help him to cope later in a school environment.
o A table lamp, I have noticed helps, our children to focus. Use it again initially to make the child focus completely to the task on the table.
o For smaller children focusing on objects with torchlight also helps. You can make it fun by asking the child to touch where the light is being focused or give him torchlight too and make him focus on objects which you are already focussing on.
o All gadgets, tabs, television, phones, computers etc., decrease the attention span of kids, regulate it. Switch them off and if possible remove them from the room the kids are studying.
o Games which require thinking like tic-tac -toe crosswords, puzzles, memory games all increase the attention span of kids.
o A soft music in the background, lights which are not too bright also helps in focussing.
o Attention develops slowly, target smaller duration i.e. 5 to 7 minutes in the beginning, and then slowly increases the duration. Give your child adequate breaks after each activity.
o As the child gets older, time his activities with a stop watch or a time timer so that the child is not sitting with his work for hours and he also is aware of the time by which he can be free, thus reducing his anxiety.
Attention and concentration is an amalgamation of many factors it never develops in isolation so when developing this understand what could be the reason your child is not able to focus. Come down to his level and then start working from there. You will find a more happy and cooperative child. So let’s get going….

Author- Simmi Vasu

Artwork by Vinayak Raj

The creative representation for my post is done by talented 12 year old Vinayak Raj through his art “Lord Buddha sitting in a meditation pose”. When we think of attention, focus and concentration what better way is to depict it than this.

BloggerSaathi CreativeSaathi

Raga time with Autism

Creative work by Heena Sahi

Raga Time with Autism

Music is something that we all can groove to anytime anywhere.

Well, now how can Autism are linked to the Indian ragas.

ASD is characteristic of neurological aberrations which mean that levels of neurotransmitters LIKE DOPAMINES, SEROTONIN, ENDORPHINS and OYTOCINS are altering.

Music in form of ragas evokes emotions and hence can thus be regarded to work on social – emotional communication in autism

Thus music is a persuasive tool, and thus helps in synchronising various brain functions in a neurodivergent individual

Research says when a brain is exposed to happy music inform of Indian ragas , the brain parts like insular , temporal lobe , caudate put amen get super activated and emotional awareness is created . Thus it a building block to initiate some social communication either in form verbal gestures or body language or social cues like smile, clapping etc

Now let’s gear up for the “SWARA EFFECT “

The frequency at which a swara is played to form an entire raga has a dominant role on making the raga a happy and cheerful one. for e.g. more shuddha swaras in a raga is directly proportional to make is a cheerful one while more of komal swara could make the raga a sentimental one and evade out sorrowful emotions

Thus music can create a mood of compassions and calmness and hence playing Indian ragas for an autistic child should never be ignored

Even the rhythm of the raga will also have an attribute on outcome from the child if the rhythm is fast , a hypoactive child would get more reactive and would show good automaticity

While on the other hand if a slow and feeble rhythm of raga is played the child might be less aroused and would also show poor attending skills and just be very relaxed and little detached

We should keep in mind out intension behind the playing of the ragas

A raga with it frequency and rhythm can have varying affect and this should be importantly noted


Well we our humans and we can’t let go off the circadian rhythm of body. Thus for an autistic child, a raga played at a specific time of the day can be more effective than any other time of the day. This is another observation that should be payed attention

If you look back to our heritage and history, there are specific ragas for specific season and this definitely has a good logic backing it

This surely coincides with the point I just made

Well this is something I wanted to touch upon that ragas might be underestimated but may no longer after reading this blog of mine.

Don’t forget to appreciate a fabulous artwork representation of music and raga by CreativeSaathi associate Morpheus Nag.

Artwork by Morpheus Nag

Thank you; hope you liked this piece of writing and the artwork!

Creative efforts and music lover – Heena Sahi

BloggerSaathi CreativeSaathi


Late diagnosis of Autism- exploring experiences of my son — By Ashuti Menon

मन – day की बात SpecialSaathi के साथ

“It’s a blackhole”…”I don’t even feel human anymore.” The note was any parent’s nightmare.
He was diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder at the age of 17. It was a very late diagnosis indeed.

Why and how we missed the signs is a story for another day. For now, I thought I would share with you what I learnt from my son post the diagnosis.

Blessed with a high IQ, he’s very good with expressing himself in writing and quite clear when expressing himself verbally, except in difficult or grey situations when he becomes awkward. In school, teachers used to be fond of him because his work was always done well, submitted on time, and he was never distracted in class. Tantrums were in abundance, but all within the confines of home.

When Covid hit, he had just entered the 11th grade and classes turned online. It’s then that we noticed him missing classes for the first time ever. Things got really rough, depression set in and he was lying around doing nothing at all in his 12th grade. One day, a note addressed to us was found on his desk. As panic struck, we rushed to find a solution, and in the process discovered ASD.

Along with the counsellor, we broke the news about the diagnosis to our son. And then for the first time, he exclaimed, “I always knew it. I had overheard some of my batchmates in Grade 7, referring to me as a probable Autistic.”

For a long time post the diagnosis, he would not converse with us. There would be phases when he would only communicate with us in writing. He refused to speak to us. One night though, when everyone else was sleeping, he decided to break his silence with me. What he said broke my heart, but also gave me a clear picture of what he had gone through.

These are some of the things he shared. He said, “For several years (between the ages of 10 and 17, especially the teenage years) I was like a robot. I used to walk to school alone (we, the parents, stopped accompanying him to school in a bid to make him independent. Other children had friends who would walk with them. He had none, so he would walk all alone). I would sit in the class all by myself, and only interact with the teacher if required.”. When I asked him, “What about recess?” he said, “I used to sit all alone during recess too and just bury myself in my books. I never looked at anyone else or spoke to anyone in the class ever. I used to finish my classes and walk back alone.” He added, “So I was a robot. A human being cannot operate like that. That was the only way I could survive.”
I asked him, “Were the children mean to you?”. He said, “Initially their teasing and meanness bothered me. But beyond a point, I didn’t care about them. I just shut myself in my world.” I told him, “It must have been really hard for you, all those years that we didn’t know about this diagnosis.” He told me, “You can’t imagine what it was like. Think about it. If you were marooned on an island, all alone for years together, what would your mental state be like?”. He added, “I could see the other island where everyone else was gathered together having fun, but I knew I couldn’t reach them. There was no way out. I was stuck.”

Autism is a spectrum and all individuals on the spectrum are different, in terms of their strengths and their challenges. Since my son’s diagnosis, I’ve read a lot of material on ASD, but what my child shared with me, gave me the best understanding on the subject. I believe sharing these feelings, straight from his heart, may help others who are dealing with children in similar situations or children who’re verbally lesser expressive.

Author- Ashuti Menon

Author is a mother to an 18 year old young boy who was diagnosed with Aspergers not very long ago. She is an HR professional with a flair for creative writing as well.

Other stories by Ashuti Guilty or not guilty and Friendship a rare gift of life.

Artwork by Kabir Vernal

Creative representation of a blackhole and galaxies is done by Little CreativeSaathi Kabir Vernal, 11years from Hyderabad.

BloggerSaathi CreativeSaathi

Enjoying Imitation

In my previous article. I discussed imitation, repetition, and memorization.

  • Imitation is important for learning purposeful movement and other skills. Imitation is the first step to learning. Read the article by Simmi Vasu here.
  • Repetition is another important step in learning. While we don’t pay much attention to the role of repetition, Ananth’s Bharatanatyam experience made me tune into the importance of repetition as an important tool for learning.
  • Memorization is yet another tool for learning that does not receive enough attention in these days. The focus is on innovation and creativity. However, we cannot be very creative if have not mastered the basics! Fluency is needed for creativity.

Imitate, Repeat, Memorize!

Sounds boring?

Thanks to the Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) approach developed by Dr. Ambika Kameshwar, imitation, repetition, and memorization can be fun!

  1. Check out this video by Lavanya Iyer. Thank you, Manju Iyer for encouraging Lavanya to do this project.

Does she seemed bored? Does imitation, repetition, and memorization have to be boring?

Here is the video by Ujwal Jagadeesh, a TAHD (Theater Arts for Holistic Development) practitioner and Bharatanatyam teacher. How well is Lavanya imitating the teacher? What do you think she is learning?

2. How about Ananth? Does he seem engaged in learning by imitation?

Ananth has practiced imitation, repetition, and memorization through Bharatanatyam for more than 10 years. Now, he is ready for applying this approach to storytelling, drama, and other endeavors!

Creative representation by Morpheus Nag

Thank you Morpheus Nag for this beautiful picture. It looks like it was created just for this blog post!

To learn more about TAHD, view Margadarshi – The Story of Ambika Kameshwar to understand the story of Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD).

Author – Dasaratha Rama

BloggerSaathi CreativeSaathi

Cranky in Kennedy Space Center – Another Educational Tour

March 11 2006
One day I went to the Kennedy Space Center with my homeschooling group. I was excited to meet a bunch of other kids.

There are many attractions in the Kennedy Space Center. These include the US astronaut Hall of Fame, Mission control, the Rocket Garden, the astronaut encounter, and the heros and legends. It was fun to see the attractions in the Kennedy Space Center with the homeschooling group.

Creative representation by Kabir Vernal

This visit sparked my interest in space exploration. In particular, I was fascinated by Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon.

Thanks Kabir for your beautiful painting. It shows how I imagined a spacecraft taking off when Neil Armstrong went to the moon. Unfortunately, my imagination did not stop there. I used to picture Neil Armstrong living on the moon. Whenever I met my cousins, I would talk about Neil Armstrong living on the moon. While I know people cannot live on the moon, I had great fun imagining Neil Armstrong living on the moon.

January 7-8 2007
When I learned we were going to the Kennedy Space Center a second time, I was very excited. If you remember my Biscayne Bay story, you know that I can get very excited about the 30th floor and other things. Space was another such interest. Maybe you can also predict that the trip may not have worked out as one might expect!

I dashed down the stairs and woke my parents up at 3:30 in the morning excitedly. My mom told me to calm down and said that we cannot go to the Kennedy Space Center this early. I then tried to go back to sleep. However, I was too excited. Hence, I could not sleep. I went down again at 4:00 pm. My mom told me to go back to sleep.

I then woke up again at 4:30 in the morning and saw that my mom was packing food. So I sat on the bed for some more time and thought about the trip. Finally, we got ready. All of us were quite sleepy.

We got in the car and dad started driving. Throughout the drive, I was excited about all the attractions. We reached the Kennedy Space Center and started seeing the attractions. I started getting tired and cranky within an hour. I started saying I want to go back. Aneesh grumbled that I wake him up early in the morning and then do not let him see anything. He told mom that he knew that I would drag him to far away places and not let him see much.

We toured the Kennedy Space Center for a few hours. Since I was very tired, I did not pay much attention to the exhibits. We then went to the hotel. Next day, we went to Disney world and had fun.

As you can guess, this became one more play that my mom and I acted. Of course, mom played Ananth, and I played mom. We always used to have fun making up and acting plays even if the trips did not end up the way we wanted.

Ananth Raghunandan

Kabir’s artwork description-The art piece “Rocket” is a process art, which is partially a collage and partially painted. Kabir has drawn, coloured and cut the rocket and then pasted on a sheet of paper, that he has painted on. The art depicts a Rocket against a backdrop of a sunny day, with meadows, tress and wildflowers below.