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Why does my child get distracted easily?

Q: My 3 and a half years old son is seeing a speech therapist for the past 3 months. He was slow to pick up languages but now he is getting comfortable with English and I see a great improvement in him since the therapy started. He speaks non-stop and also bits of Hindi which he learns in school. The school said that my son never sits down in class and is distracted by things in the class or outside it. He also wanders outside the class. The teacher/supervisor requested me to come to school daily to handle the situation as he would not listen to them. I have been going regularly to the school for the past 2 weeks and I have noticed that he just refuses to sit down and listen to the teacher/me in the class. The schedule for a day in the school is a mix of painting, music, puzzles, toys & games and lessons, where he is supposed to sit and listen for 1 1/2 hour with breaks. My son is fairly bright and if he understands and wants, he can sit down and listen. But I don't know what to do? I don't pressurise him to do anything. The school says that it is a slow process of getting him to sit down and pay attention and it will take a year or two. The school also asked us to meet a psychologist. They say that with this behaviour it could be dyslexia/LD, ADHD or mild autism, if neglected. I consulted the speech therapist and she says that there is nothing wrong with him except speech and attention, which can be taken care of with speech therapy. Once he starts understanding he will be following what is going on in the class and then pay attention. My son is in nursery and the school uses Hindi, as children come from various backgrounds so as to get them comfortable to the new atmosphere. I feel that since Hindi is the issue and we are using English for him since that is the language that the school will eventually be using from next year, my son will simply take some more time to get comfortable. He follows instructions when he wants to. Like when he wants to play his favourite puzzles/games or when he wants to eat this food/watch TV. My concerns are - is language the reason for him being distracted in the class? Is speech therapy enough or do I need to see a psychologist? Do you feel there is anything more that I can do to help him?

A:I think your close attention to your child's behaviour and your caring approach will solve all the problems. I tend to agree with the speech therapists view, that he will settle down. The lessons that are taught, where the child has to pay attention for 90 minutes, do not suit all children; but since most of them are docile, your son's behaviour will be seen as different. Language may be the reason for the child's lack of attention. After consulting the speech therapist, maybe you could just use a few Hindi phrases in your conversation at home, so that the child becomes familiar with Hindi. In the last ten or fifteen years, we are hearing of more cases, from everywhere, of attention deficit in children. Whether it is due to the over-stimulation of TV and general urban sights and sounds, or to the soft drink culture, which increases everyones intake of caffeine, we do not know. If you still need some advice for day-to-day schedules etc for your child, you could consult a Psychologist at the Rajkumari Amrit Kaur Child Study Centre at the Lady Irwin College, Sikandra Road, New Delhi 110001. The telephone number is 2371 9859. You could ask for Dr. Neerja Sharma or Dr. Indu Kaura. Please do ring them up and make an appointment, if you like. All the best.

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