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  • Carrie Salyer, MS, OTR/L

Difficulty Paying Attention?

My child has difficulty paying attention in class. I would prefer to not use medication. Do I have other options?

Yes, there are other options. Though medication may be effective in improving attention in some children, it may not be effective for every child. Some parents may wish to avoid the side effects that accompany some medications, and prefer a more natural treatment approach. If a child’s difficulty in attending is a result of poor sensory processing, then sensory integration-based treatment will be the best option.

A child can have difficulty with attention for a variety of reasons. At Leaps and Bounds, we assess a child’s ability to process sensory information, such as touch, sound, vision, movement, etc. If we determine that poor sensory processing is interfering with his ability to attend, play, and learn, then a treatment program will be established.

Therapy will improve processing in the tactile, auditory, visual, olfactory, vestibular, and proprioceptive systems, thereby improving attention. Every one of us is constantly bombarded with sensory information throughout the day. Our brains are constantly filtering out an array of sights, sounds, movements, and smells so that we are able to focus on a given task. Children that have sensory processing concerns have not yet developed the ability to filter out unnecessary sensory information.

For example, by improving a child’s ability to tune in to important auditory information (ie. his teacher’s instructions) and tune out unimportant auditory information (ie. a classmate tapping a pencil), a child will have improved attention in the classroom. Most children with sensory processing concerns will have deficits in multiple sensory systems. So in addition to the pencil tapping being a distraction, there may be a scratchy tag in his shirt, a teacher with strong perfume, a fluorescent light flickering, other students wiggling in their chairs, and cars driving by outside the window. All of this stimuli can overload a child’s sensory system and prevent him from attending.

Sensory integration-based therapy will help a child to process incoming sensory information appropriately. This will result in improved attention, improved behaviors, and improved self esteem for the child.

If you'd like to learn more about therapy options at Leaps and Bounds, please call the office at 636-928-LEAP(5327) or click the link below to get started.


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