Add And Learning Strategies Attention can be defined as the process of selecting certain environmental inputs needed for cognitive processing. Information that we are capable of sensing stays with us in the sensory register for a very brief period of time. From this point the information is cognitively processed. The role of attention can be found in the moving of this information from the sensory register into the working memory. Normal attention span seems to develop in three stages.
First, the childs attention is said to be overly exclusive. This is a term used by psychologists to describe attention that is focused on a single object for a long period of time while tuning out all other stimuli. An example of this would be a baby who focuses totally on a button or a pin on the clothing of the person holding him. Second, a childs attention develops to where it is overly inclusive. This refers to a very wide span of attention that is constantly and rapidly changing from one object to another such as a toddler who is running from one toy to the next never able to stay with any one toy for any period of time. A child who is stuck at the second stage of attention span development might be diagnosed as having attention deficit disorder.
Third, the child develops selective attention where he is able to shift focus at will from being inclusive to being very exclusive. This is a mature pattern of attention and concentration that is required to be successful in a classroom learning environment. There is said to be certain key stimuli that have a direct affect on attention. These factors have influence on what is paid attention to and inturn, stored in ones working memory. ? Size Children tend to notice and attend to large objects ? Intensity- Stimuli that penetrates the senses intensely will be attended to.
Such as loud noises, or bright colors. ? Novelty- Original, new, and unusual stimuli that stray from the norm will attract a childs attention. ? Incongruity- Objects or scenarios that do not make sense tend to draw attention. ? Emotion- Stimuli with strong emotional connotation will be noticed immediately. Such as the word Boo! provoking a childs fear or laughter.
? Personal Significance- A child will pay attention to that which interests them at that given time. Ex. A toy may take precedent over food or vice versa. Attention can be viewed as ones ability to attend to the stimuli around them. A normal attention span is said to be limited in capacity in regards to focusing on one stimulus at a time. However, certain people, namingly children, have an even more restricted condition. It is estimated that from 3 to 10 percent of the population has this disability known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD).
The essential feature of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequent and severe than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development. Some symptoms that cause impairment must have been present before age seven although many individuals are diagnosed after the symptoms have been present for a number of years. Impairment must be present in at least two settings; home and school or work. There must be clear evidence of interference with developmentally appropriate social, academic, or occupational functioning. This disorder is said to be found more often in boys than girls. Medical research has shown that AD/HD is the result of underactivity in an area of the brain involving the frontal lobe and basal ganglia. These areas of the brain are responsible for inhibiting or controlling impulsive and disruptive behavior. Research has also shown that genetics plays a significant role in AD/HD as well.
There are a variety of causes for poor attention, concentration and impulse control. A partial list would include the following: ? Immaturity and slow psychological development ? Learning disabilities such as dyslexia ? Anxiety ? Depression ? Low thyroid ? Low motivation ? Lack of sufficient sleep ? Poor nutrition ? Boredom due to lack of challenge To diagnose AD/HD, mental health professionals ask parents and teachers to observe children and rate their behavior using specific questionnaires or checklists. These checklists rate the following behaviors, which are present in most people with AD/HD: ? Distractibility ? Inattention ? Free flight of ideas (free associations to any other idea) ? Impulsivity – Moodiness ? Insatiability ? Bursts of hot temper ? Hyperactivity In most cases, these behaviors were noticed before the child was seven years old. Since the AD/HD person’s ability to stay focused gets worse when the environment is noisy or full of distractions, teachers often are the first ones to notice when a child is having trouble paying attention. In evaluating for AD/HD, a health professional should take a comprehensive family history. Since assessment is based on the presence of these symptoms before the age of seven, particular attention needs to be paid to pre-school and early grammar school experiences. Family history should be investigated as well in regards to any other family member who may have had attention deficits.
From this point teachers and parents fill out behavior checklists. Psychological tests are also given to define the scope of the problem. When a problem appears to be present a trial of medication may be given to try and relieve the major symptoms. The most prevalent of medications today is known as Ritalin. IVA, TOVA, and CPT Continuous performance tests are and important means of assessment. The major problem with these tests is that they don’t take into account that the person taking the test may have Learning Disabilities, which may prove inaccurate results.
Last semester I was given the pleasure of working with a very special student by the name of Alex. Alex is an energetic young boy who attends the Lura A. White School. He is an active 3rd grader that spends the majority of his school day in an inclusive classroom setting with a 1:1 academic assistant. The remaining portion of Alexs day is spent either in the resource room or in therapies.
Alex has no physical disabilities and maintains the active lifestyle typical of any energetic 9-yr. old boy. His hearing, vision and motor skills are functionally optimal. His disposition is positive and happy and his frustration is minimal. He learns best in small group and/or 1:1 activities.
Reinforcement of positive behavior and small rewards are successful methods in working with Alex. He enjoys hands on activities as well as those, which require movement, and performs optimally with numerous short activities rather than long ones. Disregarding the mention of Alexs inclusive classroom, one could assume that Alex was a relatively normal child. However, Alex has been diagnosed with AD/HD, as well as mosaic downs syndrome. Due to the fact that Alex was first diagnosed with downs syndrome, the recognition and commonality of his attention deficit was not a surprise. Alex has been taking Ritalin for almost three years now.
The medication provides tremendous assistance in keeping Alexs attention focused, however the time I spent with Alex served as a supplement to his medication. By this, I mean that where the Ritalin left off in the students schooling, I picked up. My teachings, at this point in time, revolved around Alexs speech and language impairments. However, the manner in which I taught him ran parallel with recommended strategies used in teaching children with attention deficit disorder. The following are a few of the approaches I took in working with Alex 1.
By pausing and creating suspense by looking at the student before asking questions, emotion comes into play and the students interest will be peaked 2. Asking the student questions randomly encourages the student to be on their toes 3. Use the students name in a question or in the material being covered. 4. Ask a simple question (not even related to the topic at hand) to a child whose attention is beginning to wander.
Provide a topic that will interest the student and let the conversation serve as a break 5. Develop a private running joke between you and the student that can be invoked to re-involve you with the student. 6. Stand close to the inattentive student and touch them on the shoulder as you are teaching. 7. Decrease the length of activities or lessons. 8. Alternate physical and mental activities.
Give the student a chance to stretch and get the bugs out 9. Increase the novelty of lessons by using films, tapes, flash cards, and games 10. Incorporate the students interests into a lesson plan. 11. Give simple, concrete instructions, once.
12. Use a soft voice to give directions All of these techniques that I used throughout the process of teaching Alex worked very well in maintaing a balanced attention span despite his AD/HD. However these techniques are not much different from those used on any normal child. With the exception of over-repetition in dealing with children with AD/HD, the strategies used and influencing factors are the same. Alex responded to big, bright, loud, high energy/emotion stimuli, as would anyone in seeking to obtain their attention.
In choosing the topic of attention and Attention Deficit Disorder, I was surprised at the number of unanswered scientific questions that still linger. Attention seems to be that little something that you can not see, hear or touch but manages to influence everything in everyones life. I enjoyed my time as Alexs teacher. As I taught him and aided with his attention, he taught me patience. Regardless of what type of students or subject matter a teacher is going to be working with, it can be sure that attention will play a major role in their teaching style.
As simple and remedial as it may seem, if the recommended guidelines and criteria are met, you will have a more enjoyable as well as lucrative learning experience. Psychology Essays.