“Matthew, go bring your shoes, please”… *silence*… “Matthew, did you hear me?”… No matter how many times you repeat the prompt, Matthew meets you with a blank stare. Does this situation sound familiar to you? You’re not alone! Following directions is an essential skill, yet many children have difficulties following simple directions, especially children with developmental challenges.
It is important for a child to follow directions because it is how learning takes place. Following directions directly impacts a child’s academic success, social development, as well as performance of daily routines. If a child displays difficulties with following directions, it may not only affect a child’s functioning at home and school, but also affect his/her self-esteem and social life.
Why does this happen?
A child may struggle to follow directions due to a hearing impairment, language processing disorder, low attention span, sequencing difficulties, and/or memory deficit.
Milestones for Following Directions
Following 1-step commands
“Get your shoes”
Following 2-step related commands
“Get your shoes and bring to me”
Following 2-step related and unrelated commands
“Get your shoes and your socks, and put them on”
Signs to Look For
Gives a blank look when prompted with directions
Requires repetition of directions
Follows directions indirectly
Displays distraction when given directions and/or attempting to follow directions
Looks to others to follow directions
Falls behind age-appropriate milestones (see above)
Carries out only one step of multi-step directions
How to Help
Thank you for reading our post Help! My Child Won’t Follow Directions. If your child seems to fall behind the milestones for following directions, it is always recommended to receive a full speech-language evaluation. A speech-language pathologist will be able to determine what specific challenges and needs your child may have, and how to best help him/her. If you live in Florida, please reach out to Exceptional Speech Therapy or Exceptional Teletherapy to schedule a thorough evaluation.
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