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Attention: From Confusion to Control. The Role of Attention in a Neuro-developmental Model of Assessment and Interventions. Agenda. Housekeeping Introduction of Rudolf Stockling Presentation Discussion. Introduction of Rudolf Stockling. EDUCATION / MEMBERSHIP MSc (Psych) Wollongong

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Attention from confusion to control
Attention: From Confusion to Control

The Role of Attention in a

Neuro-developmental Model of Assessment and Interventions


  • Housekeeping

  • Introduction of Rudolf Stockling

  • Presentation

  • Discussion

Introduction of rudolf stockling
Introduction of Rudolf Stockling


  • MSc (Psych) Wollongong

  • Member Australian Psychological Society (APS)

  • Registered Psychologist NSW Australia


  • Secondary Teacher (4 Years)

  • Educational Psychologist (12 Years)

  • Psychologist in Private Practice (8 Years)

  • Director of Assessment Lexicon Reading Centre Dubai (at present),

Attention control systems
Attention Control Systems




Mental energy

  • Alertness

  • Sleep and arousal balance

  • Mental effort

  • Performance consistency

A alertness
A. Alertness

  • Regulates the flow of energy

  • Prevents mental fatigue

    Look Out for:

    At home:

  • Difficulty finishing homework

  • Can’t sit still on car trips, at the table, etc.

    In school:

  • Yawns

  • Fidgets

  • Contorts the body

B sleep and arousal balance
B. Sleep and arousal balance

  • Brain’s ability to promote sleep

  • Regulates appropriate alertness during day

    Look Out for:

    At home:

  • Resists going to bed

  • Cannot fall asleep at a regular time;

  • Hard time getting up in the morning

    In school:

  • Does not really wake up until late morning;

  • Yawns,

  • Stretches

  • Tired during class

C mental effort
C. Mental effort

  • Supplies the energy required for a student to start, work on, and complete a task

    Look Out for:

    At home:

  • Requires heavy prodding to do homework or study for tests; have to “light a fire” under him to do chores

    In school:

  • Late starting work

  • Puts off tasks that are particularly hard or unappealing

D performance consistency
D. Performance consistency

  • Ensures a steady, reliable flow of energy from moment to moment and day to day

    Look Out for:

    At home:

  • Energy level and interest in tasks are unpredictable

    In school:

  • Inconsistent School work quality and amount

Strategies mental energy
Strategies: Mental Energy

  • Praise attention efforts.

  • Encourage physical activity.

  • Give advance notice.

  • Break up studying time into chunks.

  • Recommend a bedtime routine.

  • Provide breaks with physical activity

Strategies mental energy cont
Strategies: Mental Energy cont.

  • Help to get started on homework.

  • Identify high mental effort periods.

  • Monitor performance inconsistencies.

  • Use a dry-erase board to organize homework time.

Processing controls

  • Saliency determination

  • Depth and detail of processing

  • Cognitive activation

  • Focal maintenance

  • Satisfaction level

A saliency determination
A. Saliency determination

  • Selects important information for use and puts unimportant information aside

    Look Out for:

    At home

  • When given a list of chores, cannot distinguish which are more important than others

  • may have a hard time making a decision when presented with many options

    In school

  • Distracted by sights, sounds, or events happening close- by;

  • Takes detailed notes, without prioritizing

B depth and detail of processing
B. Depth and detail of processing

  • Controls how deeply students concentrate on details in order to capture the information

    Look Out for:

    At home:

  • Has to be told directions or information several times before it “sinks in”

    In school:

  • Misses critical details, like operational signs in math or punctuation in writing

C cognitive activation
C. Cognitive activation

  • Triggers prior knowledge and experience learning new information

    Look Out for:

    At home:

  • Unengaged and disconnected (cognitive underactivation) or

  • Bounce around seemingly random topics (overactivation)

    In school:

  • Disengaged from classroom discussions or

  • Disrupts discussion with irrelevant ideas

D focal maintenance
D. Focal maintenance

  • Allows a student to focus for the right amount of time on important information

    Look Out for:

    At home

  • Jumps from activity to activity without finishing;

  • may overuse the TV remote

    In school

  • Stops focusing in the middle of an activity;

  • Is not prepared when class begins a new subject

E satisfaction level
E. Satisfaction level

  • Controls how deeply students concentrate on details in order to capture the information

    Look Out for:

    At home

  • Only concentrates on things of interest

  • Exhibits an extreme hunger for material possessions (the “latest” thing)

    In school

  • Disrupts other students when bored;

  • does not focus in class unless interested in the topic

Strategies processing
Strategies: Processing

  • Teach scanning or skimming techniques

  • Draw focus to important information.

  • Provide a clear ruler to help your child keep her place while reading.

  • Use sub vocalization.

  • Connect new information to prior knowledge.

Strategies processing cont
Strategies: Processing cont.

  • Make new information relevant.

  • Encourage eye contact and repetition.

  • Teach your child to prioritize.

  • Teach and model internal standards.

  • Use internal dialogue, or self-talk,

  • Reflect on successes.

  • Cue children to upcoming transitions .

Production controls

  • Previewing

  • Facilitation and inhibition

  • Pacing

  • Self-monitoring

  • Reinforceability

A previewing
A. Previewing

  • Consider more than one action or response

  • Anticipate the outcome of a choice

    Look Out for:

    At home:

  • Trouble thinking through the possible consequences of her actions, even when prompted by parents

    In school:

  • Does not use outlines to plan a paper or project

  • Difficulty estimating answers to math problems

  • Difficulty in predicting events in or endings to stories

B facilitation and inhibition
B. Facilitation and inhibition

  • Exercise restraint and not act immediately

  • Consider various options

  • Choose best response or strategy in a situation

    Look Out for:

    At home

  • Does the first thing that comes to mind without considering possibilities;

  • can’t resist temptation (e.g. sneaking treats before meal)

    In school:

  • Blurts out responses in class discussion

  • Says whatever is on his mind

C pacing
C. Pacing

  • Adjusts the rate to complete a task;

  • Enables production at appropriate rate

    Look Out for:

    At home

  • Rushes through homework

  • Trouble allotting enough time

    In school

  • Does poorly on timed tests

  • Still completing assignments when others are done

  • Finishes tasks far too quickly resulting in errors

D self monitoring
D. Self-monitoring

  • Allows to evaluate continuous performance

  • Allows to evaluate completion a task

    Look Out for:

    At home:

  • Does not check his work,

  • Leaving chores unfinished or poorly done

    In school:

  • Trouble editing his own work;

  • Doesn’t “get it“ when behaviour is bothering others

E reinforceability
E. Reinforceability

  • Helps to respond or act on prior experience

    Look Out for:

    At home

  • Gets into trouble over the same problem despite past interventions or consequences

    In school

  • Keeps making the same mistakes despite tutoring or re-teaching

  • Insensitive to punishment and reward

Strategies production
Strategies: Production

  • Engage in “what if” exercises in various academic, behavioural, and social situations.

  • Build in planning time

  • Model planning techniques for your child by ‘thinking aloud’ while performing a task.

  • Use stepwise approaches.

Strategies production cont
Strategies: Production cont.

  • Stress the importance of organization.

  • Encourage self-grading.

  • Provide consistent feedback.

  • Create a visual reminder to “hold that thought.”

  • Discuss the lesson or assignment.

Strategies basics
Strategies: Basics

  • General Tips

  • Home, School and Clinic Collaboration

  • Involving Children

Strategies general tips
Strategies: General Tips

  • Decide which strategies to try

  • Limit yourself to 1-3 strategies to try first.

  • If the first few strategies not improve the child's skills, try others.

  • Adapt strategies for use with your child’s age groups

Home school and clinic collaboration
Home, School and Clinic Collaboration

  • Share observations about your child's strengths and weaknesses

  • Discuss where the breakdown is occurring

  • Share information on issues in other areas

  • Attention issues often masks other learning issues

Home school and clinic collaboration contd
Home, School and Clinic Collaboration, contd

  • Identify your child's strengths and interests

  • Discuss possible strategies

  • Acknowledge your emotional reactions

  • Discuss appropriate next steps

Involving children
Involving Children

  • Attention skills are important to succeed with school work, control behaviour and relate well to others.

  • Some children give up and see themselves as failures

  • Others exhibit behaviour problems related to attention.

Involving children contd
Involving Children, contd

What to do:

  • Open non-judgemental discussion of learning profile

  • Explain that everyone has strengths and weaknesses.

  • Create a shared sense of optimism

  • Explain that learning problems can be managed

  • Work toward a common realistic goal

Resources professional organizations
Resources:Professional Organizations

  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry:

    Information and Pamphlets

  • American Academy of Pediatrics:

    Information for parents of children from birth through age 21.

  • American Psychological Association:

    The professional organization of psychologists in the USA

Resources websites
Resources: Websites

  • All Kinds of Minds:

    Provides resources to help parents, educators, and clinicians

  • Learning Disabilities Association of America:

    Provides information on understanding learning disabilities

  • National Center for Learning Disabilities:

    Information about learning, early literacy and learning resources

  • LD Online

    Learning Disabilities and ADHD Information


    Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder


  • Brown, Thomas E. Attention Deficit Disorder: The Unfocused Mind in Children and Adults.: Yale University Press 2005

  • Levine, Melvin D. All Kinds of Minds. Cambridge, Mass.: Educators Publishing Service, 1997.

  • Website: