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Supporting Children with Attention Difficulties

As a speech therapy practice in Nottingham, Speech Right is often asked by parents and teachers, how they can support children with attention difficulties. So, with 10 plus years as a speech therapist in Nottingham, I have written some of my key strategies/ideas for helping children with attention difficulties below;

  • Say the child’s name before speaking to them. This will help the child to focus their attention.
  • Encourage the child to “look and listen.” Get the child to stop the task that they are doing and look at the speaker.
  • Get down to the child’s level when speaking to them. It will be much easier for them to attend to what you are saying, if you are closer to them.
  • Speak slowly and clearly. The child will then be able to focus on each word that is being said.
  • Support your spoken utterances visually e.g. gesture/use objects/use pictures/use symbols/use Makaton signs for key words in the utterance. The child will then both hear and see the utterance which will help to gain and maintain their attention.

If you would like advice on how to use Signs and Symbols with your child/in your classroom, please feel free to contact Speech Right and one of our speech therapists in Nottingham will be happy to help.

  • Talk at the child’s level of understanding. Try to use the same length of utterance as the child is using. If the child is not able to understand what is being said, their attention will be lost.
  • Make use of visual timetables and set routines. The child will then understand what is going to happen which will mean they can then focus their attention on the activities.

Again, if you would like advice on using and making visual timetables, feel free to contact Speech Right and one of our speech therapists in Nottingham will be happy to help.

  • Use short activities which have an obvious ‘start’ and ‘finish.’ This will make it clear to the child where and for how long they need to attend for.


Try to use these strategies at home/nursery/school to support children’s attention skills. The speech therapists at Nottingham’s Speech Right can offer further advice/strategies/activities if you still have concerns about your child’s attention skills.


Ways to Help Childrens’ Speech and Language Skills

Top Tips to Support Childrens’ Speech and Language Skills

Ensure that your child is looking and listening to what you are saying. If needed, wait for them to finish their activity and look up towards you before you begin to speak.

Use gestures and actions alongside your speech to keep your child’s attention and help them to understand what you are saying.

Talk about things that are happening in the ‘here and now’. Comment on what your child is doing so that your child can match the words to the objects e.g. “Jack is sitting on the chair. Jack is putting his shoes on. Jack has got his coat.”

Repeat back and add a word on to what your child says to help them put more words together e.g.
Tess = “there’s a car”
Adult = “yes, there’s a FAST car”

Give your child lots of opportunities to hear clear models of speech to support them to develop clear words e.g.
Ted = “wat the tar”
Adult = “yes,WASH the CAR”

Give your child lots of time to think about and say their spoken utterances. Try not to make your child feel rushed to get their words out or they will put extra pressure on their language system which might overload it.

The Links Between Speech and Language Difficulties and Literacy Problems at School.

There is evidence which highlights that children who have difficulties with their speech and language skills will struggle with literacy at school. This document from ICan (www.ican.org.uk) explains some of the problems that children who struggle with their speech and language skills can experience: http://www.ican.org.uk/download%20files/ReadOnGetOn%20I%20CAN%20SLCN%20and%20literacy.pdf

What causes stuttering

So far, one specific cause of stuttering has not been identified. Research is, however, revealing different explanations for the condition and looking at possible treatments. Norman Miller’s ‘The Science of Stammering’ article published on The British Stammering Association website (www.bsa.org.uk) gives a very good overview of the current findings from this research.

Click on the link to have a read: