As a new music therapy intern, I find myself constantly looking for things to better understand my new clients and set them up for success. After a few weeks of observing sessions and listening to symposium presentations, the concept of “attention” has been brought up many times. Maintaining attention seems to be the key part in all therapeutic contexts, and I’ve recently learned about it in more detail.
When working with a client with any cognitive disability, it is important to be aware of and constantly tracking their attention. Maintaining a level of attention is crucial to be able to work on reaching any other goal.
To keep clients on track for their attention goals and encourage them to improve their attention, knowing these 5 levels of attention is super helpful. These are listed from the simplest level of attention to the most difficult and cognitively challenging. If a client is having trouble with some of the higher levels of attention, that may mean that they need to master a lower level first.
Here are some tips to support clients’ attention and avoid distractions:
- Create an a peaceful, quiet environment away from windows and doors
- Allow time for breaks during or between tasks to reduce fatigue from extended attending
- Check for regulation
- Use a visual schedule and check things off as you go
- Schedule most important work for times of greatest concentration
- Break bigger tasks into smaller ones
To find out more about attention, check out these great sites!
Sources: Neurologic Music Therapy Presentation (Tara Harwell, M.A., MT-BC, NMT; Elise Pardue, MT-BC, NMT), https://thecfydiaries.wordpress.com/2016/09/15/five-levels-of-attention/, http://www.musictherapymaven.com/what-is-attention-for-therapists/