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It seems simple to think that if a person were to pay attention, they’d hear directions and follow them easily. According to this assumption, a child, for example, who puts in minimal effort, could pay attention in class and understand the content or verbal instructions given by the teacher. Or an adult who heard information would simply need to follow through on what they heard.
Unfortunately, this assumption isn’t true for many people and can lead to a lifetime of misunderstandings and missed opportunities to improve the true causes of inattention in safe, natural, accessible ways.
When a child is known for consistently not paying attention in class, they can receive many labels;
Some of these labels may be accurate, but none help a parent or a child know how to support a person to pay better attention.
Often it’s suggested the child needs to try harder, lose privileges, or simply shape up to improve their attention skills. While those suggestions might bring temporary results, they likely won’t get lasting results because the cause of inattention is not being addressed.
Being an adult who struggles to pay attention or the parent of such a child can feel overwhelming and confusing. Many families want natural, straightforward ways to address the causes of inattention, which is now an option through The Listening Program®.
Knowing how to support a person who can’t pay attention successfully begins with understanding the reality of why it is happening.
Research is clear that the ability to pay attention in any setting depends on three major factors;
The pathway from sound to words to understanding is multi-faceted to achieve understanding and attention.
First, the sound travels from one person to another via the ear. If that path is not blocked or muted by a hearing loss, the sound continues into the brain for the next step of translating sound into meaning.
Through auditory processing, sounds are formed into words, attached to meaning, and combined to form ideas within the brain. If there is a delay in auditory processing, some or all of that meaning can be lost, even if the sounds are heard.
If the hearing is intact and the ability to process auditory input is working correctly, the message can still be blocked if the sensory processing system is not regulated. A dysregulated sensory system diverts energy away from things like attention to allow the brain to focus on regulating the sensory system.
By looking at the process, it’s important to note that even when hearing is within the normal range, and a child wants to pay attention, other factors can block their ability to pay attention and draw meaning from verbal instructions.
A parent can rest assured that inattention can be supported by looking at the aforementioned factors. While they are complex processes in the brain, they can be supported and improved simply, naturally at home.
It is common for a child to hear the teacher but unable to process the heard information. This is referred to as Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). APD is a disorder of the auditory (hearing) system that disrupts how a person’s brain understands hearing. It is not a form of hearing loss, though it can often look that way, especially in a classroom.
APD would mean that a child could hear the words a teacher is speaking, but as the sounds of those words travel from the child’s ear into their brain, the message or part of that message is lost.
The signs of APD are different from one person to another. A child with APD could have any combination of the following symptoms;
To learn more about auditory processing and its effect on people of all ages, refer to this blog post.
While sensory processing isn’t something many of us think about often, it’s a factor that affects each of us every moment of the day. It can have a profound effect on the ability of a person to pay attention.
When the brain detects specific stimulation such as lights in a classroom, background noise of papers rustling, noses sniffling, or pencils erasing, it can deem those sensations as “too much.” Once the brain detects a sensation as too much, it sends an “unsafe” signal, causing a physical and emotional reaction. At this point, the brain then uses its energy to regain safety, which leaves a person unable to learn, pay attention, focus, or be logical until those sensations are no longer bombarding their system.
Children who are more sensitive to sound, visual input, or other sensations, can frequently be off task, not because they want to be, but because their brains are busy trying to avoid sensations that most others don’t even notice.
Children who are less sensitive to sound, but have a sensory system that seeks out other stimulation like movement, can also often be found inattentive in situations where students sit still for too long. Once again, the brain detects sitting still as “not enough” to feel safe and diverts all attention from learning and focusing on feeling right.
The way we each process sensory information is different and directly affects the ability to pay attention. Read this blog post to learn more about how you or your child is processing sensory information.
Many factors can cause inattention, none of which involve “wanting to do better, or trying harder.”
We know that if a person’s hearing is within the normal range but struggles to pay attention, we can look to auditory and sensory processing to improve attention. That process is more accessible and natural than most people might think. It is possible to improve both auditory and sensory processing through music, allowing a person to be more attentive more often.
The Listening Program promotes improvement in these areas through a research-based method used to improve volume awareness, a common difficulty for those with auditory processing challenges. (This is discussed in more depth by Usha Goswami from Cambridge University.)
The Listening Program® (TLP) uses particular techniques to train volume awareness, and therefore improve auditory and sensory processing, enhancing a person’s ability to pay attention.
This is done by modulating the volume of individual musical instruments and a method called audio bursting. This occurs when the volume of an instrument is deliberately increased and decreased quickly to help train auditory attention.
Through scientifically designed music as described above, The Listening Program can train the brain to improve someone’s volume awareness. The result can have a very positive impact on many attention and many other critical areas of learning.
Read more about how TLP improves auditory processing in this article.
By listening to The Listening Program at home, many children and adults have increased their ability to pay attention through 15-minute daily listening sessions.
Children who had poor focus, sensory overload …and communication issues showed improvement. They made friends, participated in school and after-school activities, and improved academically. I found the ABT programs complemented the other remedial work I was doing with my students, which enhanced their ability to learn.– Denise Decker, Special education teacher and TLP provider
By looking at the root of inattention and addressing it naturally through The Listening Program, many professionals and parents have seen significant improvements in attention.
In my practice, I consider good auditory processing to be foundational in helping students achieve academic success. In my experience, The Listening Program® always provides the best results, and my students are more focused and happier at school and home.– Mary Kidson, Educational Therapist and TLP provider
If you have a child who struggles with inattention, consider what might be going on in their brains to block their ability to hear, process, and interpret auditory information. No matter where the roadblock is, The Listening Program is a gentle, research-based method that has been proven to help people of all ages.
Wendy Bertagnole, MA. Ed.
As Content Manager with Advanced Brain Technologies, I help provide educational resources for people to understand how TLP can benefit people in different ways.
With a Masters’s Degree in Special Education, I learned early in my career that there’s a deeper root to almost any difficulty in life. Being able to show people how music can help their brains function better, to achieve goals like better sleep, less stress, better communication, or healing, is very rewarding for me. Helping people feel hope for the change that can take place through TLP is my passion.
Before ABT, I worked as a special education teacher, a supervisor of an Early Intervention Program, and created my own business coaching parents of kids with challenging behavior. I served as a Project Manager for ABT in 2021, which helped me understand the needs of our clients and the life-changing benefits of our programs on a much deeper level.
In my spare time, I enjoy being outside hiking, biking, seeing every waterfall possible, doing yoga, or spending time with people I love.
Tags ADD, ADHD, attention, auditory processing, Focus, Inattention, learning, listening, memory, Sensory Processing, The Listening Program, Therapeutic Music
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