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Concentrating in class with an ABI fact sheet

Attention and concentration in class with an acquired brain injury

How do I know if my student is having difficulties with attention and concentration?

Changes in a student’s attention and concentration skills are common after a brain injury. Many students with attention difficulties might find it hard to, focus on their school work, listen to lengthy explanations or instructions, or present as distracted. In a classroom, attention challenges may appear as difficulties following instructions, failure to complete tasks, talkativeness and being off topic.

What can I do to help my student with their attention and concentration difficulties?

Currently the best approaches to help support a young person with attention difficulties are environmental. That is, changes to the student’s environment, the task, or method of instruction that can help minimise the impact of a young person’s attention and concentration challenges on their schooling and development. Some ideas to help support your student include:

  • Minimising distractions will be beneficial for your student. You can do this by:
    • ensuring that the environment is quiet.o Ensuring that the environment is quiet
    • encouraging the student to remove unnecessary belongings from their desk.o Encouraging the student to remove unnecessary belongings from their desk
    • seating the student away from distractions, such as the window, door or distracting peers
    • reduce the amount of “clutter” from pages, boards, etc that may distract a young person from the content.
  • Where possible, have the student attend to only one task at a time.
  • Before giving your student information or instructions, ensure that you have gained their attention.  This might be a prompt or cue (such as a head nod or saying the student’s name) or a whole class instruction (e.g., “Okay class, it is time to listen.”).
  • It might be helpful to have the student repeat back instructions or key points to ensure they have heard what is said.
  • Monitor the student frequently. Once they have started to do a task be alert for drifts in their attention. They may require prompts (e.g. “where are you up to?”) to help keep them on track.
  • Introducing ideas and information using novel, interesting, and meaningful activities may also help keep a young person’s attention.

Contact us

Queensland Paediatric Rehabilitation Service
Queensland Children’s Hospital
Level 6, 501 Stanley Street, South Brisbane 4101
t: 07 3068 2950
t: 07 3068 1111 (general enquiries)
f: 07 3068 3909

In an emergency, always call 000.

If it’s not an emergency but you have any concerns, contact 13 Health (13 43 2584). Qualified staff will give you advice on who to talk to and how quickly you should do it. You can phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Developed by the Queensland Paediatric Rehabilitation Service, Children’s Health Queensland. Updated: October 2017. All information contained in this sheet has been supplied by qualified professionals as a guideline for care only. Seek medical advice, as appropriate, for concerns regarding your child’s health.