Focus/Attention Processing Dysfunction Characteristics

On the other hand, if your child’s karate teacher says that he needs to continually redirect your child’s attention during lessons (ones that are very active and hands-on), you may consider that this child is struggling to maintain focus when his peers do not need to expend any energy for this task.

HOW YOU CAN DETERMINE IF YOUR CHILD HAS A FOCUSING ISSUE

  • Checklists, such as the one above help identify a child with an issue.
  • Pediatricians can help decipher the observations you have of your child.
  • Conners Behavior Scale, or BASC can be obtained by your physician. These are informal questionnaires to be completed by parents and other adults who work with your child in an academic setting. The results are calibrated to determine if the child is merely at risk of an attention problem, or actually is showing attention problem symptoms in more than one setting.
  • Sunday School teachers, co-op teachers leaders and other adults who work with your children can help determine if he or she is experiencing a problem.

RESOURCES FOR CORRECTION

There are two ways that children who have to expend more energy than their peers to focus can be helped. One way is to use compensation, and the other is to employ correction of the problem. Since it takes time for any correctional program to work, we really need to do both procedures. We compensate for the problem, while designing and implementing an effective correctional program.

In determining the best way to correct a child’s processing problem that is affecting his/her ability to focus on a task, we need to consider that this child likely has an upset chemistry. The basis for this assumption is the long history of the use of medication used with children with a focusing issue. These medications are designed to help the child focus with more ease by making the neurotransmitters responsible for the process of focusing, more available to the brain and nervous system.

If a parent decides to try some medication for this purpose, then the child’s pediatrician is the place to start. Sometimes parents try various medications, only to find the side effects to be unacceptable. So it’s a good idea to also consider alternative ways to help balance the child’s upset body chemistry.

Other times the parents are not interested in pursuing medication at all, but realize that their child is struggling too hard to focus, so still needs some help in producing and releasing the necessary neurotransmitters. This is when parents often turn to a nutritionist, naturopath, chiropractor, or nutritionally oriented physician to explore alternatives that seem to help so many children.

In this packet we will explore both compensations and corrections for these struggling children. In home schooling we have a unique opportunity to help the child learn how to control his/her own behavior, through gentle behavior modification. We also have the opportunity to give this child more time and attention, taking the burden off of his focusing system. We can plan schooling days that help this child gain as much information as possible from the material, without the frustration of always being behind, or not knowing what to do. It is very rewarding to work with these learners in the home setting.

COMPENSATIONS

Employ one-on-one tutoring. Children with attention problems thrive when an adult works one-on-one with them. These children struggle to complete work on their own, and find the frequent reminders to hurry up and complete their work debilitating. (See “Managing the Homeschool Teaching Day with a Struggling Learner” in the section following, to learn how to get this important time with your child, while still working with your other children).

Choose a curriculum that does not require mainly independent work (such as a computer curriculum program, or a self-paced program).

Reduce workbook exercises and busy work, such as copying and repeating math problems, as much as possible.

Buy good quality earphones for this child. He/she could use them to block out distracting noise, or you could have him/her listen to classical music softly while working on assignments.

Keep this child close to you throughout the day. Your proximity makes a big difference in his/her ability to focus. You do not always have to be interacting with him/her. Just be near him/her. Even when you are teaching another child, this child can be next to you with his/her earphones on, completing his work.

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