Attention is a very basic skill for human beings, so basic that we don’t usually talk about it.
But for some, attention is not a skill that comes easily and this problem can emanate early in childhood. This is where occupational therapists like Jacky Peile enter. They help children with attention difficulties live a better life. In this first episode of a two-part series, we chat with Jacky about attention, learning, and your child.
Jacky Peile is an occupational therapist who established EarlyLinks at Sutherland Shire, Sydney, Australia in 2010. Today, she leads a team of occupational therapists who support children, teens, and young adults with anxiety and sensory-processing difficulties through practical strategies that make their daily life easier. Jacky has also presented at National Occupational Therapy conferences and is a member of several organisations advocating for greater support and understanding for children who are usually overlooked.
- What exactly is an occupational therapist and why Jacky fits the job well
- What attention is and how it develops early in life
- How attention problems arise in childhood
- How a shift in a child’s social environment (i.e. pre-school to school) affects attention
- The different subtypes of attention: shared attention, sustained attention, selective attention, alternating attention, and divided attention
- The relationship between motivation and attention
- How a child develops divided attention
- How parents can identify attention issues in their child and when they should get professional help
- What sensory-processing difficulties are and how they are related to a child’s ability to sustain attention
- The “Purple Mat” technique to teach your child selective attention
Jacky’s guide questions for parents who want to test children for attention difficulties before consulting a professional:
- Can your child maintain attention on something that is important or motivating to him or her?
- Can your child achieve basic short periods of attention?
“If you can make the environment and the activity really simple and something that is motivationally there for your child and they still have issues or difficulties with attention, that’s the time to speak to somebody about it.”