The ability to initially attend to a task and then maintain attention to complete it greatly improves the chances of learning the task. Individuals who experience chronic and intense difficulties with addressing and sustaining attention on demand, persisting in tasks that are developmentally appropriate, following rules, and concentrating tend to have trouble improving their skills. They may perform a task once or twice and then be ready to move on. Their lack of attention and persistence often leads to immature skills.
- Say the participant’s name to gain attention before providing feedback or giving directions.
- Provide only one aspect of feedback at a time and make it frequent and specific.
- Stay near the participant in order to ascertain changes in attention and on-task behavior.
- Provide advance notice of upcoming changes to the routine or a switch from one task to another, as transitions from activity to activity may be difficult.
- Plan activities that deemphasize competition.
- Plan for additional emotional support during times of stress and fatigue.
- Encourage self-monitoring of activities, because self-control is an important goal.
- Assign one task to be completed at a time.
- Provide learning support such as cue cards, a paraeducator, or a peer tutor for tasks that require a longer time to complete or are very challenging.
- Maintain eye contact when providing verbal directions.
- Use positive reinforcement to encourage correct behavior.
- Use a calm, firm voice during discipline.
- Use preestablished cue words or hand motions to decrease unwanted behavior.
- Follow through with preestablished consequences that are as natural to the setting as possible.
- Structure swim lessons to be no more than 30 minutes long.
- Schedule pool times during which crowds, noise, and other distractions are at a minimum to help decrease time spent off the task.
- Use a one-on-one ratio when appropriate and available.
- Arrange for the participant to swim toward a wall or face away from the rest of the pool while practicing.
- Supply lap counters to help the participant keep track of laps.
- Provide kitchen timers to help the participant visualize how much time he has spent on a task.
- Use additional lifeguard coverage to enhance the supervision of impulsive participants.
- Repeat rule explanations often and ask the participant to repeat the rules when distractions are present.
- Keep the pool decks dry and free of equipment, as hyperactivity may accompany attention deficit in some students.
Goals to Target
Strive to increase the participant’s ability to follow multitask directions, time spent on task, and quality of aquatic skills; work to decrease impulsive behaviors.
This is an excerpt from Adapted Aquatics Programming: A Professional Guide, Second Edition.