BASIC (02-01)

DI 25225.035 Attending and Completing Tasks (Section 416.926a(h))

A. Policy - general

In this domain, we consider how well you are able to focus and maintain your attention, and how well you begin, carry through, and finish your activities, including the pace at which you perform activities and the ease with which you change them.

  1. Attention involves regulating your levels of alertness and initiating and maintaining concentration. It involves the ability to filter out distractions and to remain focused on an activity or task at a consistent level of performance. This means focusing long enough to initiate and complete an activity or task, and changing focus once it is completed. It also means that if you lose or change your focus in the middle of a task, you are able to return to the task without other people having to remind you frequently to finish it.

  2. Adequate attention is needed to maintain physical and mental effort and concentration on an activity or task. Adequate attention permits you to think and reflect before starting or deciding to stop an activity. In other words, you are able to look ahead and predict the possible outcomes of your actions before you act. Focusing your attention allows you to attempt tasks at an appropriate pace. It also helps you determine the time needed to finish a task within an appropriate timeframe.

B. Policy – age group descriptors

1. Newborns and young infants (birth to attainment of age 1)

You should begin at birth to show sensitivity to your environment by responding to various stimuli (e.g., light, touch, temperature, movement). Very soon, you should be able to fix your gaze on a human face. You should stop your activity when you hear voices or sounds around you. Next, you should begin to attend to and follow various moving objects with your gaze, including people or toys. You should be listening to your family's conversations for longer and longer periods of time. Eventually, as you are able to move around and explore your environment, you should begin to play with people and toys for longer periods of time. You will still want to change activities frequently, but your interest in continuing interaction or a game should gradually expand.

2. Older infants and toddlers (age 1 to attainment of age 3)

At this age, you should be able to attend to things that interest you and have adequate attention to complete some tasks by yourself. As a toddler, you should demonstrate sustained attention, such as when looking at picture books, listening to stories, or building with blocks, and when helping to put on your clothes.

3. Preschool children (age 3 to attainment of age 6)

As a preschooler, you should be able to pay attention when you are spoken to directly, sustain attention to your play and learning activities, and concentrate on activities like putting puzzles together or completing art projects. You should also be able to focus long enough to do many more things by yourself, such as getting your clothes together and dressing yourself, feeding yourself, or putting away your toys. You should usually be able to wait your turn and to change your activity when a caregiver or teacher says it is time to do something else.

4. School-age children (age 6 to attainment of age 12)

When you are of school age, you should be able to focus your attention in a variety of situations in order to follow directions, remember and organize your school materials, and complete classroom and homework assignments. You should be able to concentrate on details and not make careless mistakes in your work (beyond what would be expected in other children your age who do not have impairments). You should be able to change your activities or routines without distracting yourself or others, and stay on task and in place when appropriate. You should be able to sustain your attention well enough to participate in group sports, read by yourself, and complete family chores. You should also be able to complete a transition task (e.g., be ready for the school bus, change clothes after gym, change classrooms) without extra reminders and accommodation.

5. Adolescents (age 12 to attainment of age 18)

In your later years of school, you should be able to pay attention to increasingly longer presentations and discussions, maintain your concentration while reading textbooks, and independently plan and complete long-range academic projects. You should also be able to organize your materials and to plan your time in order to complete school tasks and assignments. In anticipation of entering the workplace, you should be able to maintain your attention on a task for exten