“Pay attention!” A phrase often heard at home or in the classroom. A child having difficulty completing a task or preferring to be run in circles in your living room can be frustrating and time-consuming in your daily schedule. Often, the two behaviors are perceived as difficulty in attending to tasks or avoidant behaviors to non-preferred tasks. It can also indicate a sensory seeking behavior.
It is first necessary to identify what sensory seeking behavior is and how it affects attention. Children who find it difficult to complete sedentary tasks will present with fidgety behaviors. This could be fidgeting with papers, having non-purposeful hand movement, shaking legs, constantly changing seated position, standing at desks, rocking in chairs, looking around the room for visual stimuli, etc . These movements will appear disruptive in the classroom. However, as distracting as sensory seeking behaviors are, they are purposeful.
A child behaving in a way that provides themselves with sensory input, whether it be oral, visual, tactile, proprioceptive or vestibular, are attempting to help themselves regulate. These behaviors do not indicate avoidance of task completion or lack of understanding of the task. By providing sensory stimuli to a child in a structured manner you are promoting attention and task completion.
Here are Activities to Help Increase Your Child’s Ability to Pay Attention
Sitting on an exercise ball at a desk
A standing desk
A move-and-sit cushion
An inflatable wedge cushion
A chewy tube
Hand fidgets (ie. koosh balls, stress balls, putty)
Paper that has color coded lines (ie. sky and grass paper)
NSPT offers occupational therapy services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!