Why Aren’t You Paying Attention? Influences and Outcomes


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Start Time: 

2:30 PM

End Time: 

4:00 PM
Hibiscus 1, KECC

Target Audience

  • Parents and Families
  • Secondary Educators
  • Direct Support Workers
  • Secondary Educators
  • Primary Educators
  • Paraprofessionals


How do you know when a child is paying attention?  What are the indicators that tell you a child is focused on you or a specific task? What does it look like?  It’s not always easy to recognize attention, particularly if a child has more complex disabilities. Understanding how and when a child is paying attention is a key component of learning. It’s therefore critical that anyone who interacts with a child understands when a child is or is not paying attention. This presentation will define attention and review some interesting and fun facts about the topic.

Participants will learn about the brain networks involved in attention and look at the features of different kinds of attention (selective, sustained, and divided).  Participants will see video clips of children who have multiple disabilities and the way they “pay attention” as well as clips of students and how their behavior indicate they are “not paying attention.”   The presenter will engage the audience in discussing the kinds of things that impact attention including bio-behavioral states, medication, environmental influences like topics of conversation, interruptions, distractions, and the ultimate demon – multitasking. Finally, participants will get a chance to assess their own attention through a series of interactive tasks.

Learning Outcomes

Participants will be able to:

  1. Define attention;
  2. Describe different kinds of attention;
  3. Identify internal and external influences on attention;
  4. Participate in activities to assess their own attention spans.

About the Seminar Leader

Photo: Robin  Greenfield

Robin  Greenfield, Ph.D. is the Associate Director of the Center on Disabilities and Human Development at the University of Idaho. She is also the Director of the Idaho Project for Children and Youth with Deaf-Blindness.

Dr. Greenfield has conducted national and international presentations on a variety of topics related to children with more complex disabilities.  She has written various articles on issues related to children with significant disabilities as well as produced a video series on the inclusion of a child who is deaf-blind in a general education class. Her research interests include looking at the impact of stress on children with disabilities, developing functional communication systems for children at the pre-symbolic level, and how to maintain attention in children with disabilities.