By: Lindsay Barret MS, CCC- SLP

Following directions and improving attention is a common goal that speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists address in therapy.

Auditory Attention

Auditory attention is the ability to attend to auditory stimuli. It is the most foundational component of auditory processing, which pertains to how our central nervous system takes in information.

When there is a deficit in auditory processing, an individual can hear sounds, but a breakdown occurs in his/her ability to interpret sounds and language.

Improving Auditory Attention

Below is a list of activities to target auditory attention and strategies to improve one’s attention. These activities can be used for those with (central) auditory processing disorder, those who demonstrate rigid behavior/ thinking, or when following directions is a general area of difficulty.

  1. Red Light, Green Light
    • Hold up pictures of red and green lights as visual support if more assistance is needed than verbal cues alone
  2. Simon Says
  3. I Spy
  4. 20 questions
  5. Memory matching games
  6. Find the ______ (item) and put it on the _______________ (item around the room)
  7. Freeze!
    • Make goofy faces or poses and then yell “freeze!” and hold the face or pose
  8. Complete a puzzle and race to finish/ place pieces
  9. Ask questions during reading or have the child act out a character during reading
  10. Sing during tasks/ create songs to improve concentration
  11. “Radar focus”
    • Have the child focus on the person talking until he/she is finished talking with a pretend telescope or “focusing glasses”
    • Can use your hands or a paper towel roll
  12. “Zap!”
    • When environmental stimuli causes distraction, pretend to zap it away
    • This helps improve awareness of environmental distractors
  13. Find more than one way to do everyday activities
    • Example: change the order of your steps when making a sandwich or take a different route home
  14. Look at pictures and come up with different scenarios for what is happening or why a character feels the way he/she feels
  15. To increase flexibility- play “what’s this?”
    • Take a standard object and create unique uses for it. This allows the child to see things from another perspective
  16. Have your child use “whole body listening”
    • Listening with your eyes, ears, body, brain, feet, hands, and mouth
  17. Get the child’s attention before trying to maintain it. Establish eye contact first
    • Use phrases such as “look at me” or “find my eyes”
  18. Have the child wait for directions to be completed before beginning the task
  19. Provide a structured task with a definite ending, such as a puzzle
  20. Give verbal and nonverbal (visual) cues to keep the child’s eyes on the task at hand

If you would like more information about auditory attention or the services we offer here at CommuniKids, contact us! We’d love to hear from you.