Attention and Listening

Attention and Listening

What are these difficulties characterised by?

Attention and listening skills are pre-verbal skills that are developed before a child is able to talk. 

 

Attention refers to a child’s ability to focus on a specific task, activity, or person for an extended period of time and listening refers to a child’s ability to concentrate on what they are hearing while ignoring any other distracting input, like background noise. 

 

Joint or shared attention refers to a child’s ability to share a common focus on an object, activity, or event with another person and is also an important part of a child’s attention and listening skills.

 

These skills are all important in a child’s development of language.

 

Children with attention and listening difficulties may demonstrate the following characteristics:

  • Difficulty sitting still
  • Often appearing distracted or like they are ignoring you
  • Constantly moving between activities
  • Often talking over other people
  • Difficulty following directions

How does this impact the child?

A child with attention and listening difficulties may have a difficult time following directions, as they might be struggling to focus on what their teacher is saying. This may often result in the child looking around to take cues on what they need to do from other people.

Children with attention and listening difficulties may also have a difficult time sitting still during whole-class learning activities. This may impact their ability to access adult-led learning.

Children with attention and listening difficulties may also be easily distracted by things in their environment. This can have an effect on their ability to complete work independently.

Children with attention and listening difficulties may be unable to maintain their attention on one task for extended periods of time and switch between activities frequently. This may impact their ability to learn and remember new information.

Attention and listening skills are also important for a child’s social skills. If a child has difficulty with their attention and listening skills, they may often appear distracted or like they are ignoring you when you try to talk to them. This could make it hard for a child with attention and listening difficulties to make and maintain friendships and other relationships.

How can ChatterBug support your child?

Attention and listening therapy would involve one of our ChatterBug Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) or Communication and Language Specialists (CALS) working 1:1 with your child to help target their specific areas of need. We can also provide group therapy sessions where this is appropriate.

If your child is struggling with joint attention skills, your SLT will work on gaining joint attention with your child through play activities or use other motivating activities to help your child initiate joint attention with another person themselves. 

If your child is struggling to focus on structured activities, our team will work on helping your child increase the amount of time they’re able to focus on adult-directed activities.

Your SLT may also provide your child with visuals to help their attention and listening skills, such as a Now and Next board, a Working Towards Reward chart, or a visual timetable. Your SLT will also provide advice on how you can modify the child’s environment to maximise their attention and listening skills (eg: reducing background noise, clearing the table they’re working at).

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