Attention – When should I be concerned


Attention – When should I be concerned and who do I contact?

what-to-watch-for Most children develop appropriate levels of focused attention during their school years. But some children may continue to demonstrate difficulties keeping attention and focus.


What to Watch For

  • Difficulty in prioritizing what is important and what is not
  • Struggles to shift focus from one activity to another
  • Constant expressions of boredom or complaints of being tired
  • Overactive or extremely fidgety, especially when sitting still and/or listening is required
  • Unable to complete tasks and/or demonstrates ongoing challenges to come up with strategies to complete activities or assignments
  • Makes repeated mistakes and does not use the successes and failures of previous tasks to help with the outcome of current activities
  • Becomes engaged only through highly stimulated activities
  • Focuses too briefly on tasks and activities, becoming bored or uninterested very easily
  • Approaches tasks and activities too quickly or too slowly with little regard for quality or completeness

All children will demonstrate one or more of the items listed above, however it is the frequency and consistency by which a child performs that may cause concern. It is important to notify your pediatrician when you begin to question your child’s patterns of attention. When taking note of your concerns, identify any patterns that you might observe, like if they are occurring during a particular time of day or when your child is being asked to engage in a particular subject matter or activity. Learning challenges in areas like reading or math, also impact attention and your notes will provide helpful information for your healthcare professional.

What is AD/HD and the Impact of Other Diagnoses

what-is-ad-hdAttention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) typically emerges in the preschool or early school years. It is diagnosed in children who have difficulty paying attention and controlling their behavior, by a psychologist, psychiatrist, developmental pediatrician, or a general pediatrician.

If your child has another diagnosis, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, he can also display a shorter attention span due to challenges with sensory processing or self-regulation

Who do I contact if I’m concerned?

who-do-i-contact If you have concerns about your child’s attention span, or if your child is exhibiting delays in other areas of development, contact your child’s pediatrician or family doctor. If further evaluation is indicated, the doctor may refer your family to an appropriate specialist such as a child psychiatrist or psychologist, a developmental/behavioral pediatrician, or a behavioral neurologist. If you are a California resident and your child is under the age of three, you may also be referred to the local Regional Center for evaluation and services; or to your local school district, if your child is over three years of age.

You are an expert on your child. Trust your instincts and seek further evaluation if you have any concerns regarding your child’s development.
Attention Development » Resources/Links