The Attention Deficit Disorder label has brought concerns regarding attention to the fore of public consciousness but unfortunately without the foundational knowledge that enables parents and teachers to find their way through a glut of confusing and often conflicting information. This course brings all the pieces of the puzzle together, bringing fresh insight to this problem and providing clear suggestions for how to deal with it.

Course Description

The Attention Deficit Disorder label has brought concerns regarding attention to the fore of public consciousness but unfortunately without the foundational knowledge that enables parents and teachers to find their way through a glut of confusing and often conflicting information. The professionals in charge of diagnosing are often experts at describing the symptoms but tend to come up short when it is time for explanations. Since we can only truly address that which we understand, the prevailing focus in our society has turned to managing symptoms instead of effecting a cure.

There are many kinds of attention problems, most deeply rooted in emotional and developmental dynamics. In this four hour course, participants will gain an understanding of how the attentional system develops and what can go wrong and why. Participants will also learn to differentiate between three basic kinds of attention problems that can all lead to an ADD diagnosis. The ultimate objective of the course is to provide the participants with strategies for addressing the roots of the attention problems in such a way that the symptoms abate, regardless of their underlying cause.


This course is suitable for all those involved with children. Educators and specialists working with special needs children will find this especially helpful, as will teachers working in alternate education settings. This course has been very appreciated by psychologists and pediatricians as well as family physicians, as it provides a solid conceptual base from which to make their assessments and recommendations.


Course Objectives:

  • to provide a basis of understanding from which to assess the nature of an attention problem
  • to equip with strategies to address the roots of the attention problems where possible
  • to provide a natural approach to treatment that has greater promise for effecting a lasting difference than a symptom management approach
  • to provide an appreciation of the maturational factors in attention and how to address these
  • to equip participants to differentiate between attention problems rooted in developmental arrest, attention problems rooted in defensive blindness, and attention problems rooted in neurological dysfunction

Course Outline

This course is generally taught in a minimum of four sessions, suitable for a day seminar or after-school professional development for groups, or at-home study for individuals. The following outline is of the video material that constitutes the core of the course.

Session 1 - The anatomy of attention
An overview of the structure of attention and how it is meant to develop.

  • how the ability to attend is developed
  • signs & symptoms of an immature attention system
  • attention is driven by a hierarchy of needs
  • signs of attachment-driven attention
  • signs of alarm-driven attention
  • how the miracle or focus Is achieved
  • what can go wrong with the focus system

Session 2 - Two basic types of attention problems
An overview of attention problems rooted in hypersensitivity and attention problems rooted in defensive blindness.

  • problems with tuning out irrelevant information
  • symptoms of hypersensitivity-based attention problems
  • problems seeing that which makes one feel bad
  • signs and symptoms of defensive blindness
  • facing separation the primary cause of blindness
  • a comparison of the two kinds of problems
  • the two basic interventions regardless of the problem
  • working with the child who senses too much
  • working with defensive blindness

Session 3 - A natural explanation for the ADD syndrome
An overview of the ‘agitation without apprehension’ syndrome and how it manifests as ADD.

  • the anatomy of alarm
  • the continuum of defendedness and dysfunction
  • what should happen to attention in alarming situations
  • the ‘agitation without apprehension’ syndrome
  • a natural explanation for impulsiveness
  • a natural explanation for chronic restlessness
  • attention problems when defended against alarm

Session 4 - Helping children grow out of attention problems
An overview of how to help children mature out of their attention problems regardless of the cause.

  • why maturation is the answer to attention problems
  • helping children get their feelings back
  • reducing separation to where it is bearable
  • reducing alarm to where it can be felt
  • helping a child grow out of impulsiveness
  • helping a child find a place of rest
  • attachment as the womb of maturation

Registration Details

The tuition fee for taking Making Sense of Attention Problems through continuing education is $150. This includes a virtual campus student pass of four months to access the videocourse material as well as other supporting materials. If a personal copy of the DVD set is desired, the tuition fee is $200.

The tuition fees for live courses arranged by individual Neufeld Course Facilitators or by other agencies are set independently and may differ from course to course.

SELF-PACED STUDY: To register for this course in the Self-Paced format, click on the Self-Paced Study registration box on the left hand side of this page. This course is available in the Self-Paced format at all times.

Course Coordinator

Neufeld Institute Faculty member Dr. Deborah MacNamara is the coordinator for this course. For questions regarding this course, please contact the course registrar.

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