Free 7 Day Gym Pass

How to Improve Listening Skills in Children with ADHD and Autism

How to Improve Listening Skills in Children with ADHD and Autism

ADHD and Autism have many similarities, including fidgeting, impulsiveness, social ineptitude and hyperfocus on only subjects that interest them. The latter symptom can impact a child’s ability to focus on and listen to directions. Here’s how to improve listening skills in children with ADHD and Autism:

Make the Message Interactive

Sometimes words aren’t enough to hold someone’s attention. This is true of both people on and off the spectrum! Make your message interactive by having your child or student move along with your directions. Create hand signals for different steps. For example: If you want your child or student to first write their name, pantomime writing your name in the air and have them mimic your movements. You can also encourage them to clap along during the directions so the message is more rhythmic and easier to remember.

Get Comfortable with Repetition

When interacting with children with ADHD and Autism, it’s important to get comfortable with repetition. This isn’t just about repeating yourself when the child you’re talking to isn’t listening. It’s also about repeating yourself and having them repeat your words so that you can make sure they heard and understood what you said.

Take It One Step at a Time

Sometimes the problem with listening for children with ADHD and Autism is that the steps move from one to the next too quickly. Take the directions you’re providing one step at a time. Pause frequently to make sure your child or student grasps the first step before moving on to the next one.

Practice Listening and Recalling in Other Settings

The above tips are great for helping improve listening skills at the moment they’re needed, but it’s also great to practice when the situation doesn’t call for it. For example: While watching TV with your child or student, you might pause to ask them to recall the sequence of events they just watched. Doing this often enough will prime them for listening to directions for an assignment or a chore.

Increase Vitamins and Minerals

A healthier diet may also reduce hyperactivity in children with ADHD and Autism. Sometimes a shift in diet can lead to a shift in focus, improving listening skills over time. Try these vitamins and minerals that improve ADD/ADHD and healthy sensory foods for children with Autism.

Release Pent-Up Energy

Another reason children with ADHD and Autism have a hard time listening is because they have a lot of pent-up energy that they’re struggling with. Regular exercise routines can make sitting still and listening when the time calls for it a little easier. At Special Strong, we believe that fitness should be accessible to all. That’s why we have personal trainers whose expertise uniquely enables them to assist those with ADHD and Autism to reach their physical and mental health goals. We work with children as young as eight years old, so sign up today for private training sessions or boot camps!


Special Strong provides fitness and nutrition for special needs children, adolescents, and adults with autism and other disabilities. Through our online training platform, we also provide special needs fitness certification courses for personal trainers and service providers who want to work autism and other disabilities.

GET RESOURCES FOR SPECIAL NEEDS