Attention Skills

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Understanding and Improving Attention
NAMI 2011
“The idea that the brain can change its
own structure and function through
thought and activity is, I believe, the
most important alteration in our view
of the brain.”
“The Brain That Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge
Research
Research Has
Has Confirmed
Confirmed
Neuroplasticity
Neuroplasticityof
ofthe
theBrain
Brain
Brain function
Brain function in
in children with
children with no
no reading
reading
disability
disability
Brain function
function
inBrain
children
within
children with
developmental
developmental
dyslexia
dyslexia
Children with
Children with
dyslexia showed
dyslexia showed
increased
brain
increased
brain
function after
only
function
afterofjust
eight
weeks
8 weeks of
training
intense training
Brain Plasticity - Neuroplasticity
• Imagine the difference between telling
a child or an adult that she has a
brain disorder
VS
• She can be like an athlete and with
practice re-wire her brain to work
better for her
How We Learn
Model of Processing New & Known Information
Auditory
Processing
Logic &
Reasoning
Working
Memory
Visual
Processing
Long-Term
Memory
Learned
Information
Output
New
Attention
Known
Input
Processing
Speed
DECISION
Cognitive Skill Efficiency
Academic Performance
Real Life Symptoms
• Can attend to what I’m interested in
– Can’t focus when it bores me
• Can complete work at the last minute
– Can’t get much done ahead of time
• Can work under pressure
– Can’t work without the threat of failure or rejection
• Can be fun and enthusiastic
– Can’t easily regulate emotions
• Can start well with new endeavors
– Can’t sustain performance to completion
Attention
• Sustained Attention
• Divided Attention
• Selective Attention
The The
The inability to stay on task for long periods of time, to ignore
distractions, or to multitask will limit the student’s other
cognitive skills! THIS IMPACTS ALL ACADEMIC AREAS
Sustained Attention
•Loses interest quickly
•Gets frustrated when something
gets too difficult
•Daydreaming
Training Attention Skills
Selective Attention
• Easily distracted
• Need the environment to be quiet
and stable to stay on task
Training Attention Skills
Divided Attention
• Struggle to multi-task
• Very deliberate in completing one task
before moving to the next
• Can get easily overwhelmed
Training Attention Skills
What Do Attention Issues
Impact?
• Short-term memory
• Think-pad of our brain – combines info
from environment with long-term
memory
• 7 “chunks” of information
• Struggle to synthesize
• Multi-step directions/careless mistakes
What Do Attention Issues
Impact?
• Processing Speed
• Working too slowly on tasks
• Requiring personalized attention
to grasp new concepts
• Struggling to meet deadlines or
complete timed activities/tests
• Struggling with anything timed
Impact of Technology
• Technology rewards distracted thinking and
superficial learning.
• Internet delivers a waterfall of visual, auditory
and tactile sensory stimulation
• Cornell University
study results
L
Reactive vs. Focused
Attention
• Reactive attention system – hardwired and
automatic (required for survival)
• Focused attention system – prefrontal cortex,
required when paying attention to something not
stimulating
Most youth have an overdeveloped reactive attention system and
underdeveloped focused attention system
Unlock Potential
Thank You
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