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Is there anything I can try to boost my daughters ability to concentrate and retain information?

(24 Posts)
mummyloveslucy Mon 06-Jun-11 20:39:21

Hi, I am home educating my daughter due to her SEN's and other factors. She is 6 years old and has a developmental delay of about 2 years. She has poor speech and understanding of language, poor attention and concentration, and is going to be acessed for ASD.

I do all sorts of things with her at home like her brain gym programme, speech therapy games, listening games, phonics games, cooking , gardening etc, there is so much. I have to keep everything informal and treat everything as a game.

I read to her all the time, and this time I decided to ask her some very basic questions about the story. I was shocked to find out she didn't have a clue! She's sat there quietly sucking her thumb and I thought she was listening and enjoying it.

It's made me wonder how much she takes in of anything really. I talk to her about everything we're doing, but how do I know she's even listening? She seems to be, but often isn't.

Can anyone recommend things I could try with her to improve her attention and understanding? It's so hard knowing weather she's making progress in her learning ability or not.

mummyloveslucy Mon 06-Jun-11 20:57:55


Ben10isthespawnofthedevil Mon 06-Jun-11 21:06:18

I am sure that Indigo Bell will say AIT as she has had huge success with her son and daughter. Also behavioural optometry. We are having good success with that at the moment in addition to Sensory Integration Therapy.

Eveiebaby Mon 06-Jun-11 21:14:00

Maybe she cannot find the words to answer your questions. Maybe you could try and ask her questions which mean her pointing to the correct picture/answer in the book rather than speaking. If she can point the answer or show the answer physically you would know that she is understanding but unable to say the words.

mummyloveslucy Mon 06-Jun-11 21:16:01

She is on a programme called 10 gems for the brain. It's a moove to learn thing, to work on her retained reflexes. After that, she'll be having auditory processing therapy called Johansen sound therapy. It's through the same therapist.
The movement therapy has helped her co-ordination a lot and she doesn't seem to be quite so sensitive to touch, especially her hands. She's actually holding hands with me properly for the first time in years. She used to only offer her fist for me to hold.

mummyloveslucy Mon 06-Jun-11 21:26:44

maybe so. It was a story called The rag coat. I was really beauiful story about a girl who's family were so poor she didn't have a coat so couldn't go to school. Her dad dies and the mothers of the town all used scraps of cloth to make her one. She was bullied at school about the coat, so she explained how special it was to her and how their own mums had made it. It ended with the children being very sorry for teasing her and they made friends and ended up laughing together.

I said to her "what do you think that story was about?" she said "naughty children" I asked her if they were friendly in the end and she said "no, they were naughty!". hmm

IndigoBell Mon 06-Jun-11 21:46:01

Maybe the story was just too hard for her. And the questions you were asking.

Assuming she's got ASD then her ability to understand and interpret emotions is probably impaired. My DS doesn't ever think a story is sad......

So if you'd asked her simpler questions, like what colour was the coat, she might have been able to answer.

I don't know much about SALT problems, but do you need to watch the language you use? Use very clear and simple language and few words. I mean miss out all the social niceties that don't add meaning to the sentence....

IndigoBell Mon 06-Jun-11 21:46:33

Glad to hear 10 gems seems to be having some effect.....

TotalChaos Mon 06-Jun-11 21:52:41

agree with indigo and evie. see what happens if you ask simpler questions. also discuss with SALT if they can give you any exercises on inferencing for you to do at home with her, or if she needs to work on sequencing/why-because type stuff first.

mummyloveslucy Mon 06-Jun-11 22:01:09

The book might have been a bit hard for her, although she enjoys being read too and she said it was good.
I suppose I asked the questions to see wether she understood what happened in the story and alow us chance to talk about it, how the girl felt, was she brave to stand up to them etc. I guess she just wasn't ready for that. She would easily say what colour the coat was ect... I think.
I don't really use more simple language with her. She has a very big vocab and uses words like marvelous, incentive and specific. Not often but she has used these words in the right context before. She tends to get sentences muddled and sometimes what she's saying just doesn't make any sence at all. Her speech is quite distorted, but she loves to talk.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Mon 06-Jun-11 22:46:55

If she has ASD or a different DX she could still be using quite complex words, seemingly in the correct context, without truly understanding their meaning. The DS I support has a good reading age, but he misses a lot of the subtle meaning of a story. He can't read between the lines. He may be able to say someone is sad because it says they were crying, but he won't know why they were sad.

There is a fabulous resource called 'Language for Thinking' which assesses children's understanding of inference and helps to develop it. It's probably quite expensive, these books always are, but it's a simple and fun way to develop and monitor children's talents in these areas. I use it with the child I support and my DS has used it at his school.

Language for Thinking

Actually it's under £30 which is cheaper than I expected.

Keep your language fairly simple and allow time for processing, sometimes a lot of time is needed to allow quite clever children to fully process the question. Try not to keep re-phrasing the question, as your children can then have to start processing from scratch. It's different than for NT people, where you would re-phrase if at first they didn't understand. Start off with simple and unambiguous questions. HTH. smile

dolfrog Tue 07-Jun-11 04:35:51


you might like to read this recent research paper
Decreased Left Posterior Insular Activity During Auditory Language in Autism American Journal of Neuroradiology ? January 2010

timetoask Tue 07-Jun-11 06:22:29

This is the type of thing speech and language therapists work on, is she getting SALT?

mummyloveslucy Tue 07-Jun-11 09:40:10

Thanks everyone. I will buy that book Language for thinking.
It's very interesting about alowing time for processing. I feel really guilty now, as I usually do re-phrase the question if she doesn't answer right away. I thought she was being really awkward as she would make noises as if she was frustrated, then if I said "I'm just trying to help, she usually blurts out "just don't talk anymore". I thought she was being really rude so I'd walk away. (If we were at home)
Thanks for mentioning that, I'd carry on if I hadn't read that. smile

She is having SALT. She's recently been moved to a new speech therapist who is fantastic! She's given us auditory memory games for home, where she has to remember the things I say in the right order. She finds this hard, but doe enjoy it. (loads of praise is needed) She's also working on "st" blends. She's not at all keen on this as she finds it very hard.

mummyloveslucy Tue 07-Jun-11 09:50:19

dolfrog- Thanks for that link. It looks interesting. I'll read through it this evening. smile

IndigoBell Tue 07-Jun-11 10:37:13

I think you need to wait at least 8 seconds after you ask a question.....

LIZS Tue 07-Jun-11 16:46:57

That story though lovely is rather too complex for a young mind and it may have been hard for L to sustain her thoughts through to the happier ending. Also as her experience of school wasn't happy then she may have focussed on that part. Try something simpler perhaps, which you can do an activity around and talk about the story that way , or use figures such as toy animals or puppets to help her retell it.

EllenJaneisnotmyname Tue 07-Jun-11 16:55:23

The language for thinking scenarios are pretty simple and are about everyday, familiar situations, and are ideal to start off discussions around the story. They are deceptively simple, in fact, but with the 3 levels of questions you can explore understanding really effectively, starting from the most simple, concrete comprehension through to prediction and inference. I hope you find it useful, I'm sure Lucy will enjoy it. smile

PipinJo Tue 07-Jun-11 18:18:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

supermum98 Tue 07-Jun-11 19:26:48

Try fish oils too, supposed to help concentration. I have had success with the new eye q smooth. Eye Q is chemically the best I have been told on good authority. I squirt the sachet into an actimel drinkie yogurt, other drinkie yogurt brands would work too. My ds. has not noticed the fishie taste at all, and because the oil is in smoothie form itself it mixes in well. I failed with all other eye Q formulations.+

EllenJaneisnotmyname Tue 07-Jun-11 19:51:31

Ooh, yes. Meant to say eye q fish oils, but got sidetracked. Really think they help DS2's concentration.

coff33pot Tue 07-Jun-11 20:03:28

I am not sure if it helps but my DS is just coming up to 6 and I know that story would be too much for him. Reason being whatever story I read his mind focuses on 1 event so if the story is to complex or too long he wont brake away from the main event and just switches off and the story goes on deaf ears. You could try and break it up in stages throughout the day and discuss each stage separately? See what response you get then?

mummyloveslucy Tue 07-Jun-11 21:31:49

She takes Well kid Olmega 3 at the moment. I could try eye q, but if it tasted even remotley of fish, she wouldn't take it. I like the idea of putting it in a yogart drink, she likes them.

I've decided to go back to the good old picture books with her. Julia Donnaldson etc. She enjoys them the most and can understand them better. I did try to move her on from them, but I don't think she was really ready.

I'll look up fast forward. I did hear about it in a book I read aboud APD. "Like sound through water" I'm willing to give anything a try.

ohmeohmy Tue 07-Jun-11 21:47:36

this could be helpful

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