Many teachers and parents seem to be concerned with student attention problems. Do these concerns warrant an evaluation? If this is an attentional problem, what is the underlying cause? Let’s chat about this topic together! If you want to watch a replay of the live recording where I discuss this topic, please click here.
We Love Rating Scales!
As much as we love our rating scales, school psychs know firsthand that rating scales only give a snapshot of the student’s behavior. Elevated scores can stem from various possibilities, making it important to obtain a historical perspective. Here are some questions to consider when reviewing a student’s records and interviewing parents.
- When were the attentional concerns first documented?
- If the attention problem started later in the student’s educational career, why did it start? Was something happening in the student’s life?
- Does the student have anxiety or depression, causing them to be inattentive?
- What is the student’s home environment like? Is the student ruminating on problems occurring at home?
Interviews are Your Friend
When parents and teachers are concerned about a student’s ability to maintain appropriate levels of attention, conducting an interview may be helpful. Part of the interview process can include the student to better understand their perspective. Here are some questions that can be asked to help solidify your hypotheses.
- When did your child’s teachers begin talking to you about attentional concerns?
- What is your child’s attention span at home when completing tasks they prefer versus non-preferred tasks?
- What do you notice about paying attention in school? Why do you think that is? Are some classes easier for you to pay attention to?
- When was the first time you noticed attention was a problem for you?
- I received feedback from your English teacher, who feels you struggle to pay attention when challenging concepts are taught. Does that make sense to you?
Make Time For Observations
Whether you conduct a formal or informal student observation, school psychs can collect valuable data about a student’s attentional abilities. Here are a couple of factors to keep in mind when conducting observations in the classroom setting.
- Because you are not a regular visitor to the classroom, you are changing the environment simply by being there. Students may be aware of your presence, changing how they behave.
- Psychs can become laser-focused on the one behavior they are looking for. Try looking at the child through a different lens and be open to other reasons they may struggle. Determining the why will help create appropriate intervention strategies.
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How would you like to receive an exclusive video FREEBIE? If you sign up for Summer Boot Camp within the first week, you will receive a bonus video called “When Do We Really Call It Attention?” which discusses attention in-depth.