Attention and listening difficulties

How we can help people with attention and listening problems

Attention and listening is the ability to listen and attend to the information around us and then act on this information appropriately.

What are attention and listening problems?

Attention and listening problems are difficulties in listening and paying attention to the spoken information around us. An adult with attention and listening problems will have difficulty in acting appropriately to the spoken information that is presented to them.

Listening is a complex skill which involves the individual concentrating on an auditory signal which they can hear, and then filtering this information whilst ignoring other distracting signals e.g. background noise. Attention is a skill which involves the individual listening or concentrating for a sustained period of time.

Attention and listening are fundamental skills which are needed to communicate effectively. An individual with attention and listening problems will often experience communication difficulties which can include both expressive (verbal and written) and receptive (understanding) language.

Common characteristics of attention and listening problems in adults are:

Adults with attention and listening problems may similarly experience difficulties in their speech, language and communication.

Attention problems may also affect an adult's ability to attend to visual or written information; this again can cause a breakdown in effective communication.

What conditions can cause attention and listening problems?

Attention and listening problems may be acquired, for example, as the result of a head injury or as part of a progressive disease e.g. dementia. Attention and listening problems may be present from birth and be the result of conditions such as autism spectrum disorder.

There are many conditions which can cause attention and listening problems. Some conditions which may cause attention and listening problems are:

How are attention and listening problems diagnosed?

Attention and listening problems will be diagnosed by a team of medical professionals. An initial assessment carried out by the speech and language therapist will help to identify if an adult has attention and listening problems.

How can speech and language therapy help with attention and listening problems?

Speech and language therapy can be very beneficial for an adult with attention and listening problems.

Speech and language therapy will be tailored to the individual’s specific speech, language and communication needs. Speech and language therapy will also vary depending on many factors, including the individual’s current communicative ability and also the underlying condition causing their attention and listening problems.

Speech and language therapy will aim to maximise the individual’s communication to the best of their ability.

What speech and language therapy treatment can benefit attention and listening problems?

There are many types of speech and language therapy treatments which can benefit attention and listening problems. Each therapy programme will be individualised to the specific needs of the individual. Different types of treatments available for attention and listening problems can include:

Training

Training involves training for individuals, parents, carers and other professionals involved in the individual’s care, regarding their speech, language and communication needs.

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Consultative role

A consultative role will include advice and support for the individual, their parents, carers and other professionals involved in their care regarding their speech, language and communication needs. The speech and language therapist may also provide information on compensatory strategies for the patient and their carer or parent to help support and maximise their communicative abilities.

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Home programmes

Home programmes will include take home activities, which will help the patient and their parents or carers practise skills learnt in therapy. The speech and language therapist can provide home programmes on communication, for parents, carers and the individual, in helping them to maximise their communicative ability. School programmes can also be given to help support the individual in their educational environment.

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One to one therapy

One to one therapy will provide intensive one to one treatment for the individual. One to one therapy will work on individual tasks in helping to maximise the individual’s communication. One to one therapy can include receptive tasks, which work on the individual’s understanding of spoken language. One to one therapy may also work on expressive tasks, which work on the individual’s expressive communication including gesture and writing.

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Total communication

A total communication approach works on all available communicative forms the patient has including, verbal, written and non-verbal communication.

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Group therapy

Group therapy is where the individual and other clients with similar difficulties receive therapy together. Group therapy can often help in later stages of therapy and increase the individual’s motivation, social skills and also help generalise the skills learnt in one to one therapy.

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Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Augmentative and Alternative Communication systems will be used for patients with severe communication problems, or if the patient is non-verbal. Examples of alternative forms of communication include, alphabet charts, sign language and hi-tech voice aids.

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Speech and language therapy may also include the following:

Summary

Attention and listening problems are difficulties in listening and attending to the information around us. A patient with attention and listening problems will often experience difficulties in their speech and language abilities. Speech and language therapy will aim to maximise an individual’s attention and listening and also communicative ability.

If you feel you may benefit from speech and language therapy or would like any more information on our services please email office@slt.co.uk or call 0330 088 5643.

Related pages

What we treat Attention and listening problems Communication problems Comprehension problems Eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties Expressive language problems Language delay and impairment Social communication problems Speech sound problems Voice problems
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What are the next steps?

If you would like any more information on our training for other professionals or any of our other speech and language therapy services, or would like to book an appointment with one of our speech and language therapists then please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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