Focusing on Visual Information
Shan’s mother gave him a 5 piece puzzle. He looked at the pieces, tried to put two pieces together and then looked at the window. His gaze then shifted to the wall, his mother’s face, the ceiling, his sister and then back to the table as his mother asked him to look. He put two more pieces and looked at the book on the table and then the ceiling, window, book shelf and mom’s face. He was distracted most of the time and needed constant verbal cues to attend to the task at hand.
The Reason Behind – Disrupted Visual Processing
This fleeting attention span could be attributed to his disrupted visual processing (one form of Sensory Processing Disorder) as he was not able to filter out unnecessary visual information (sensation) and focus on the task at hand. All visual sensations (images, light, faces etc) seem equally important and hence he finds it determine what is relevant and what is not for that particular situation. We observe it as distractibility.
It’s like trying to solve a puzzle inside a planetarium with blinking stars and planets all over.
How to Help Shan?
Shan has a sensory dysfunction; he is just not naughty or dumb or stubborn and not listening to your instructions.
- Understand the Child
Be patient and try new strategies. Being a parent is the toughest job, but the most rewarding.
Make the environment less distracting as possible. Avoid unnecessary objects from the work table. Keep unnecessary sounds to minimum, like noise from fan. Keep only the objects needed for the particular activity on the table. Provide a calm atmosphere while studying.
Avoid fluorescent lighting. The light should be from behind the child so it is not directly on him. If he still distracted, use a table lamb with the light focusing on the activity. Use natural lights as much as possible.
- Wall Color
Calming colors on the wall will be good. The wall in front of the child should be empty without any wall posters/paintings.
- Same Room
Use a same room for studies/home work. Avoid confusion.
- Warm Up Activities
Provide warm up activities before studies to get him organized. Occupational Therapists will help to provide suggestions based on his sensory needs..
- Present Desensitization Gradually
Gradually provide desensitization by presenting simulated distracting stimuli to an extent where he can concentrate on the task at hand even with distractions around him.