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Attention Challenges Simulation

Empathy in Education Series is an Educational Experience: The Attention Challenges Simulation


Program Overview

This simulation was developed at Total Learning Centers in response to requests from parents and professionals to know how it feels for a student with attention challenges to get through school. Most parents and professionals knew the symptoms of attention weaknesses and the behaviors typically manifested; however, a felt – not just intellectual – understanding of the intensity of attention challenges, even with high motivation, was a vital missing piece of their experience. The series of exercises described here, albeit far from the true real-life experience of children, nevertheless offer a powerful glimpse into their world. Not only can this increased understanding lead to more useful guidance, children often express sincere gratitude to parents and professionals for better understanding why they act and react the way they do when required to sustain focused attention.


Why it is Needed

It is unfortunate that some parents and professionals automatically lump all children with attention issues together e.g., “Those children need ______,” as if they all not only share the same strengths, interests, experiences, motivations, hopes, anxieties, pains, and social, family, economic, and academic characteristics but also the same solutions! The type, intensity, and frequency of attention challenges are also as diverse as the people who have the challenges. On the other hand, there are similarities among children with attention challenges. They must work hard to maintain attention on the appropriate task (or sometimes divide their attention among several tasks).


Working hard to maintain attention on the appropriate task extends beyond the school walls for most children with attention challenges. Family and friends expect certain levels of sustained attention for both productive and fun activities. For older adolescents with jobs, the extra energy needed to sustain attention throughout their shift is difficult to understand without spending time in their shoes. The Attention Challenges Simulation focuses specifically on school-related experiences though parents and professionals have commented that it was not difficult to apply their new insights to other situations.


The Simulation

The Attention Challenges Simulation includes six activities representing typical school experiences described by children as being particularly difficult for others to understand before they experience it for themselves.


This simulation is offered yearly at Total Learning Centers – call 724-940-1090 or email Success@TotalLearningCenters.com for more information and to register.


Activities Overview

Activity 1

Following Directions – Visual Attention


Activity 2

Auditory Attention Confusion


Activity 3

Mad Minute Multitasking – Attention Focus


Activity 4

Social Norms

Social norms are sometimes difficult to pick up on especially for people with attention challenges. This activity simulates the frustrations of not knowing what to expect.

Activity 5



Activity 6


Attention Challenges Simulation

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