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Attention has several components:

  • selective attention – focussing on a particular stimulus
  • divided attention – focussing on two or more stimuli at a time
  • alternating attention – switching focus from one stimuli to another
  • sustained attention – attending for a long period of time and resistance to distractions

Attention deficits usually manifest as problems with concentration, task focus and work organisation.

In many definitions and theories of brain function, attention overlaps with some of the executive functions. In order to distinguish these domains for diagnostic purposes in FASD, attention has been defined separately.

How might the person with FASD be affected

Problems with concentration, focusing on a task and completion of tasks at school, home or work

Attention problems may occur with or without hyperactivity

Tips for managing these difficulties

May need to have shorter times for activities and breaks between – if they have been sitting and are starting to fidget, allow them to take time to move around (applies to school and home)

Minimise noise and other distractions – have a quiet corner where they can go and put on headphones to block out noise

Use daily planners – visual cues for younger children and written lists, notes or phone messages for young people so they can see or read what they have to do next


RETURN TO: Common difficulties and tips