“My son has the concentration span of a gnat. I think it’s because he doesn’t understand and then he gives up trying.”
These were the words a mother shared with me a couple of weeks ago. And yes, I knew exactly where she was coming from. Georgie was driving not only both of his parents insane, but also his teacher. “Sit down Georgie, sit down!” was fast becoming his teachers frustrated cry.
When the stats for a gnat’s concentration span reveal that it is just .210005 of a second then it’s no small wonder that we find it frustrating!
What’s more concerning though is not only our growing frustration with the child, but more punishments we meet out through not knowing a better way to handle the situation.
I’m certainly not here to condemn parents who are doing their best to handle an exasperating situation, because faced with the same challenge I’d be right along with you doing the same thing. Why it bothers me is because we need to get to the root cause of it. Punishment is seldom known to be the most effective method for best outcomes.
In the case of Georgie’s mother, she had done a wonderful analytical job of her son and established the root cause of why he was switching off.
MOMENT OF TRUTH
Understandably if something is too hard, we feel we are unable to achieve it or simply don’t understand it then we shift our focus to something that is manageable. But dare we believe this? Might it not mean that our child was of low intelligence, if they can’t understand, what other children their age can?
Isn’t that quite a frightening thought? One in which most of us would naturally reply – No, sorry not my child. But if we probe a little further we ask, Why can’t he understand? What’s stopping him from understanding things the way others do? No fear though, I’m not suggesting you turn into a psychopath! (Though a little understanding of how the brain and senses work is always helpful.)
Typically there are a number of questions that spring to mind, a range of routes to take as we explore the potential reasons this frustrating behaviour is plaguing your little family.
Hearing & Vision Tests
As an absolute basic, have your child’s hearing and vision checked. If there are any issues here you want to be sure you are on top of them. Time and again parents report poor behaviour and then after identifying some deficiency in their hearing or vision things start to make sense. Particularly where vision is concerned. When you think about it, it does kind of make sense that your child just might not be able to understand what you are describing, or quickly loose interest when you describe something outside the window. If they can’t actually see it and don’t realise that they should be able to, they give us the ‘gnat treatment’.
Seriously if you were sitting in a class room and couldn’t for the life of you work out what the teacher was demonstrating on the board, wouldn’t it be a lot more fun to start making up stories in your head or monkey around with something you could get your hands on, than crane your body forwards at an uncomfortable angle or admit to the whole class that you are the kid who can’t do what others can?
Parents have told me many times “We see a dip in behaviour, so we get his eye sight checked and then he comes back with a new set of glasses and everything improves from there.” Or “We were having tantrums and headaches and based on my other children, I knew it was time to get her eye sight checked.”
Ok, so that’s an easy one. But what happens when the eye sight checks come back as all clear?
Do you move on to something else and safely assume that the eyes aren’t the issue? Unfortunately it’s not always that simple. Many times parents will come away with an apparent clean bill of health for their child’s eyes when in fact there is something very wrong.
A specialist optician such as Alexander Kobrin in Potters Bar, will discern when your child’s eyes are not working together and are relaying different messages to the brain. Glasses which incorporate prisms are often found to be very helpful to correct this condition.
Additionally a Behavioural Optometrist will identify eye muscle problems and provide you with a range of exercise cards to enable you to work with your child to retrain their eyes to work together.
Finally, to go one step further and not only sort the eye tracking, and in some cases do away with needing to wear glasses at all, you need to get to the part in the back of the eye that is causing these problems and fix that. This part is known as the macula and is the part responsible for sharp, clear central vision and the ability to perceive colour. If this part is not behaving as intended it leaves the brain in a very confused state. Making it very hard to understand and retain information, as well as recall information at a later day. Additional signs & symptoms
Thanks to ALC and her tireless service this final step is now possible and instead of years of ferrying your child to and from appointments the procedure can be carried out in a non-invasive fun way in just 10 power sessions.
After completing the ALC program, Kelvin’s (10 years old) mother, Sarah wrote the following to me:
“Thanks again for everything – I am so pleased today, Kelvin has been sitting at the table for over an hour now doing a Airfix model which was given to him as a present over a year ago and he has never been able to do more than 10 minutes without frustration and did not ever appear to be able to follow instructions. He seems to be enjoying it too – which helps on a rainy day!”
As a final word – check out what Aidan’s mother says about her 14 year old son.