Special Interest Area to Promote On-Task Behavior

  • Situation

    I have a student who will not begin her writing work in English class. I have tried graphic organizers, adult assistance, allowing her to dictate but she just doesn’t want to do the work. What can I do to motivate her to start her writing tasks?

  • Summary

    Try using her Special Interest Area as a jump-start to writing. Students on the Spectrum state they learn better and work better if they are able to complete academic work around their Special Interest Area (SIA). They can persevere even with tasks that are difficult if the task can incorporate their interest area in some way. Be creative by using the interest and guide the student into other areas.

  • Definition

    SIA refers to Special Interest Area. Incorporating a student’s SIA within academic tasks can serve as a motivator that promotes on-task behaviors within academic tasks.

  • Quick Facts

    • Child's Age: 6-10, 11-13, 14-17
    • Planning Effort: Moderate
    • Difficulty Level: Easy
  • Pre-requisites

    Knowledge of Special Interest Area

  • Process

    1. Determine a student’s Special Interest Area.

    2. Determine academic subjects or tasks that are un-preferred or trigger off-task behaviors.

    3. Incorporate the Special Interest Area into the academic task.

    4. One Example: SIA is Poke-Mon; Academic Task is to write about a President of the United States including economic issues at the time; incorporate the SIA by telling the student to research who was President when Poke-Mon first came to the US and how the industry affected US economy.

  • Documents and Related Resources

    From Toilet Brushes to Tarantulas (PDF)



    If you have questions or concerns about the Watson Institute’s use of this information, please contact us.