Experienced West Midlands based speech & language therapy

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Attention & listening difficulties – a universal problem?

There can be a number of reasons why some children are ‘not ready’ for a universal approach: any/all of the difficulties identified below will make it hard to participate in Wellcomm groups.

There may be significant problems with either understanding or using language, with or without  English as an Additional Language (EAL), general immaturity, possibly as part of an overall delay or attention and listening problems.  This last group are increasing in number: they find it hard to sit still, are easily distracted and often prefer their own agenda rather than allowing themselves to be directed by an adult.

It isn’t generally known that attention and listening are learned skills and develop in a hierarchical way. Practitioners find it really useful to be aware of the stages and the way that children can be supported to move through them so that they are ready to learn in a group.  A child’s early environment is crucial to the development of these skills.  Very often arrival in an EY setting is the first real opportunity a child has to learn to focus on specifics – to learn to discriminate between what is important and what isn’t – to listen to language for a purpose and ‘tune out’ the relentless background of TV, radio, music and indiscriminate talking.

So - what else can we offer?   Ideally activities which:

  • Make minimal language demands
  • Involve lots of repetition
  • Are inclusive & social (i.e. group-based)
  • Offer opportunities for good role models
  • Are easily differentiated
  • Follow the normal pattern of skills acquisition (i.e. go at the child’s pace)

In September, Highters Heath Nursery (as part of the Birmingham Association of Maintained Nursery Schools – BAMNS) hosted the launch of the Soundswell Attention & Listening Group Teaching Pack.  This inaugural half-day training  helped delegates to identify which children might benefit, looked in detail at the Pack, how to set up and run groups; how to monitor progress and when to move children on – either back into universal strategies or on to other vocabulary-focussed interventions.

We are grateful to BAMNS for being such lovely ‘guinea pigs’ and for their constructive and useful feedback.  More Attention & Listening training sessions are planned.  If you would like to know more please contact (info@soundswellspeech.com) or give us a call (0783 7048525)