3.2 - Attention & Concentration

A focused cat

Attention is a common challenge associated with brain injury and other neurological conditions. In general terms, it is defined as paying attention to all parts of a task no matter how small.

You may also be familiar with the term, concentration. Concentration refers to controlling one's attention. It is essentially the ability to selectively attend to something while ignoring other things. Intense concentration can cause you to become oblivious to your surroundings.

Attention and concentration provide the foundation for all learning and can be negatively impacted by:

  • feeling exhausted, tired, or weary
  • lack of energy
  • medication
  • cognitive fatigue

Types of attention

Sohlberg & Mateer (1989) identified a clinical model of attention that included five levels of attention:

  • Focused attention: The ability to recognize and respond to something for any period of time.
  • Sustained attention: The ability to focus your attention for a continuous period of time.
  • Selective attention: The ability to attend to specific information when distractions are present.
  • Alternating attention: The ability to shift or pivot attention between competing tasks.
  • Dividing attention: The ability to successfully attend to 2 or more stimuli at the same time (commonly known as multi-tasking).

Everyday issues

  • You may not notice when someone comes in the room.
  • You may have difficulty focusing for more than a few minutes.
  • You might be easily distracted.
  • You may feel scattered and overwhelmed.
  • You might not be able to successfully start or finish tasks or projects.
  • You miss critical steps in a routine when stressed, in a hurry, interrupted or distracted.

Strategies to get you started

  • Remove distractions: Use earbuds or headphones to block external noise, or sit in the front of the class so you're not distracted by people in front of you.
  • Take mini-breaks to refocus and recharge.
  • If you are interrupted when reading, use your finger as a placeholder.
  • Take notes and schedule time for everything on your calendar. The Notability app is a great tool for taking and managing notes; check out our online Notability class.
  • Use the BEST My Checklist app to list and track necessary steps (and time) in a routine to remember each step.

Making Cognitive Connections

Cognitive skills used to perform iOS device functions and the connections to other life skills:

Cognitive Skill iOS Device Examples Life Examples
Attention to Detail
  • Find the BEST Suite icon on the device Home screen
  • Check writing for typographical errors
  • Enter appointment information into correct fields
  • Find spots on laundry to spray before washing
  • Put keys back into their storage location

Source: Photo by Biel Morro on Unsplash.com

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