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Suggested Strategies to Address Learning Weaknesses of Students with Spina Bifida, Attention -- SHNIC Educators Information

Trouble paying attention is a common problem for students with spina bifida. They have trouble paying attention to teachers, peers, parents, and tasks or assignments. At times, it may appear that the student is self-centered and not caring about others' needs and feelings.

Although this may also be true of some students with spina bifida, difficulty paying attention in school will seriously impact their ability to be successful in the school environment. They may miss directions or assignments, copy assignments or work incorrectly, miss parts of conversations with their peers, work more slowly or leave important materials behind in classes. Some suggestions are listed below that may be helpful when working with a student who is having difficulty paying attention. If consistent use of these strategies does not improve the student's attention, discuss with your school's team whether the student may need to be referred to a doctor for evaluation for attention deficit disorder.

  • Establish an unobtrusive signal between yourself and the student to alert her to her inattention.
  • Be certain to get the student's attention and eye contact before giving instructions or a demonstration.
  • Try preferential seating near the teacher or the front of the room.
  • Reduce distractions in the environment as much as possible.
  • Give short assignments.
  • Break longer assignments down into shorter tasks or work on them in several short periods.
  • Provide reinforcement for work completed on time.
  • If necessary, reduce directions to individual steps (i.e., give each one after completion of the previous one).
  • Maintain physical contact while talking to the student (i.e., put your hand on her shoulder).

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