Attention and Concentration

Attention and concentration are part of a group of high level thinking skills known as executive functions. Attention can be understood as a person’s ability to participate and sustain their efforts on one particular task. 

Attention is an umbrella term used to describe multiple skills such as divided attention (multi-tasking, sustained attention and attention to detail, just to name a few. When combined, these skills support our ability to:

  • Initiate and complete tasks.
  • Identify important key details.
  • Divide our effort to complete multiple activities.
  • Become aware of our other thinking skills such as memory, planning and organisation to complete tasks optimally. 

Without attention skills we would be unable to focus on any particular task long enough to complete even a single step. This is what some children have difficulty with every day. If you observe a family member, big or small, consistently present with the following there may some difficulty with attention and concentration.

  • Continually look away from or physically remove themselves from an activity. 
  • Have difficulty recalling instructions due to a lack of attention when instructions were first given.
  • Picking up a task but have difficulty keeping engaged long enough to complete it.  
  • Avoidance of tasks requiring a high amount of mental effort e.g. Homework. 
  • Difficulty waiting their turn in conversations, games or queue. 
  • Moving onto another task and forgetting about the previous task. 

Occupational Therapy, Attention and Concentration

An occupational therapist can provide specialist support to review, assess and intervene with attention and concentration difficulties. An OT can work with clients to consider how the difficulty is creating a barrier to optimal engagement and provide opportunities for skill development, further education and provision of strategies.