Attention difficulties

Many young people come to see me as they have trouble paying attention. This can be either at school, home or both, and may have a significant impact on learning and their life.

Attention is important for several aspects of learning and allows information to be taken in. When we learn something new, the information is encoded like a temporary sticky note in our brain (working memory) and that itself requires attention. But in addition, recall of memory also requires attention. Hence, attention and working memory are both key to learning new information.

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What are the red flags?

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There are a number of red flags that you and/or your child might notice including:

Short attention span

Easily distracted

Forgetting or losing things

Problems following instructions

Difficulties completing school work

Disruptive behaviour

Poor academic performance

Why is this happening?

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Since difficulty paying attention and working memory are widely associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), there are a number of other possibilities that can be contributing. Hence, it’s important that these other possibilities, which are not always obvious, not be overlooked.

Some of the other possible causes include:

Mismatched learning style as not all children learn the same say (e.g., auditory learners learn best by talking and listening, visual learners through reading and observation, tactile learners through physical touch or movement)

Anxiety and/or stress

Lack of interest and/or motivation

Low-self steem and/or depression

Personal problems such as difficulties at home, trauma, grief or lost

Not getting proper sleep and/or nutrition and/or exercise

Specific learning disabilities, such as difficulties with reading and spelling (dyslexia), difficulties with writing (dysgraphia), difficulties with mathematics (dyscalculia

Reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities (learning disability)

Some medications or organic illnesses, such as low thyroid function or iron deficiency

What is my approach?

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As a first step, I will carry a thorough evaluation with you and/or your child. Screening questionnaires (SNAP IV, Conners comprehensive behaviour rating scale, DIVA-5, Social Communication Questionnaire), cognitive assessment, physical examination or liaison with other professionals and school will be provided if you wish.

Once the condition(s) is/are identified, I will develop a personalized treatment plan jointly with you and/or your child based on personal needs. The treatment will include an integrated approach to achieve optimal attention and working memory.

This can include:

Information and support to better understand and cope (psychoeducation)

Personal development and self-improvement

Person-centred talking therapy such as interpersonal therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, play therapy, social skills therapy

Tailored learning techniques and/or behaviour learning plan with school when appropriate

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy 

Mind-body centre exercise to increase the relaxation response

Empower parents through positive parenting techniques 

Family therapy

Promote a healthy lifestyle through exercise, diet and micronutrients

Sleep therapy

State-of-the-art medication when appropriate

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55 Harley Street, London W1G 8QR
Monday to Friday 8.30 am – 6 pm

Appointments: 020 3488 6250

Fax: 020 3745 0225
Email: secretary.drsala@londonpsychiatry.clinic

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