Attention Difficulties

Many students with FASD have attention difficulties. They become distracted easily and lose their focus. They have difficulty concentrating. They may seem to be listening, yet often they do not know what is being discussed, or what the assignment is. Many students can also be be hyperactive and restless; they may wander about the classroom.

… I just couldn’t sit in my desk and concentrate—for me, being in a classroom was like being at Playland Park or what Disneyland must be like—too much to deal with or to be able to focus.
(Copeland and Rutman, 1996)

The following characteristics describe FASD students who have attention problems. These students are:

  • Slow to settle downbrain-attention
  • In constant motion
  • Unable to wait their turn
  • Easily distractible
  • Difficulty filtering out external distractions
  • Unable to focus on their work
  • Unable to remain on task
  • Unable to sit still
  • Constantly fidgeting
  • Poor listeners
  • Impulsive
  • Hypersensitive or hyposensitive to stimuli
  • Constantly disturbing others

FASD students may feel overstimulated or overwhelmed. The following are typical behaviors that often emerge: averted gaze, “shutting down,” withdrawing, or having a temper tantrum.