& Professionals

How to help young people with Listening and Attention difficulties


What are Listening and attention difficulties?

Difficulty focussing attention and listening in the classroom

  • Focus the student’s attention before giving instructions.
  • Try to do one thing at a time e.g. either writing or looking for information.  Flag up changes so the student knows to change his focus of attention.
  • Make the student aware of good listening skills, e.g. sitting still, looking at the teacher, and not talking.
  • Use appropriate pictures or signs to represent these skills.  Give positive feedback on appropriate listening and attention.


Switching off when being given verbal information

Use an appropriate level of language.  Use short, simple sentences.  It is often useful to chunk information into shorter pieces.


Not knowing what to do

  • Encourage the student to tell you what they have heard to ensure they have taken in information.
  • Encourage a classroom policy of ‘Its good to ask if you don’t know what to do’.


Distracted by other pupils and what is happening in the surrounding envrionment 

  • Be aware of and reduce background noise and distractions where possible.
  • Check where the student is positioned so he has a clear view of the teacher and the white board.


Unable to sustain attention throughout the lesson

  • Have realistic expectations and allow suitable learning breaks. 
  • Keep activities varied to maintain interest.
  • Refocus the student’s attention when necessary.




Further information can be found in Secondary Language Builders - Advice and activities to encourage the communication skills of 11-16 year olds available from

Local Initiatives

Early Years Initiatives

Our Early years team are currently working together with the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, this includes a rollout of language screening of children using the Wellcomm tool.

School Age Initiatives

We currently offer a range of virtual training sessions to schools for free! SENCo's will have been informed of training dates that you can book your staff on to. Please contact Fiona Taylor ( or your Link SLT if you have any questions about this. 


 Enhanced Services initiatives

The Enhanced Speech and Language Therapy (SALT) Service offer bought-in input in schools. This might involve universal input, individual or group interventions. The Enhanced Team also support schools and staff to develop communication friendly environments and deliver training. For further information, please contact Fiona Taylor –


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