Thursday, July 29, 2010
Challenges of auditory attention

By Dr. Anthony Policastro One of the things that I deal with is auditory attention, the ability to pay attention when someone is listening. This is better for some people than others because there are so many variables. There are many kinds of listening situations and they either fall into group situations or one on one. Group situations are usually learning in nature such as a classroom lecture or church sermon. There is a speaker and a group of listeners. In all of those situations, a term known as continuing vigilance is important. This refers to how long you pay attention to what is said before you stray from the speaker. This is different for each person. Some can pay attention longer than others. It also varies with the topic and speaker. Some topics and speakers are more interesting to us than others. Thus how long someone pays attention will vary with both the individual and the specific topic or speaker. A second term is reinforcement of attention which refers to how long you stray before you return to listening to the speaker. Again this will vary with the individual, the speaker and the topic. Some individuals will stop listening when the speaker begins and never come back. Both continuing vigilance and reinforcement of attention go together. Therefore, in any group situation, some people are listening and others may stop listening to the point that they fall asleep. That is the ultimate loss of continuing vigilance. A third term is distraction filtration. There are always background noises. In most cases they remain in the background but some people have trouble with the level of that noise. Most of us have tried to talk on the phone when there is background noise that is so loud that we cannot hear the phone. The volume of the background noise is different for each person. For some it is just background noise. For others, it sounds so loud that they cannot concentrate on anything else that is being said. When I talk on the phone, I need to move away from the TV or other noise. My wife does not have that problem. She can talk on the cell phone when I am driving even if the radio is on. I would not be able to do that. A fourth term is foreground-background prioritization, which is related to distraction filtration. In this case, it is not related to the background noise being turned up. It is more related to the individual focusing on the background noise than on the primary speaker. The child in the back of the church may be crying but it is not loud enough to drown out the speaker. However, the individual might focus on it. All of these come into play in the one on one situation. There is one more thing that occurs in this situation. Some people are more concerned with what they are going to say next than they are on what the speaker is saying. For that reason, they are not really listening, just looking for a break in the conversation to be able to speak. We all have problems with auditory attention. It is sometimes more obvious than others and often depends on the situation. It is worthwhile to think about how all these things affect a child who has to sit in a classroom for the entire day, every day. Attending to what is said can be a real challenge.

Volunteer child advocates needed You can make a difference in the life of an abused or neglected child. The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program in the Delaware Family Court seeks concerned, qualified adults to serve as CASA volunteers in Sussex County. CASAs are trained community volunteers appointed by Family Court judges to represent the best interests of abused/neglected or dependent children who are the subject of Court proceedings. The CASA volunteer advocates for the best interests of the child by investigating, presenting facts and recommendations to the Court, and monitoring a case until the child is provided a safe and permanent home. CASA volunteers have varied professional, educational and ethnic backgrounds. They are selected on the basis of their objectivity, competence and commitment. Training, supervision and attorney representation are provided. For more information and to apply to become a CASA volunteer, call the CASA office at 855-7410 or 855-7411. Applications are being accepted for the upcoming October 2010 training session. You must complete all days of training before you can be assigned to a case.

BBQ & Antique Car Show Methodist Manor House will hold the 2nd Annual Chicken BBQ & Antique Car Show to benefit Delaware Hospice on Saturday, Sept. 11, from noon to 3 p.m., at 1001 Middleford Rd., Seaford. Guests will also enjoy a live broadcast of Eagle 97.7, bake sale, craft table, gift shop and Manor House Thrift Shop. Cost is $8 per chicken platter. Tickets may be purchased from the receptionist at Methodist Manor House.

Heart Walk 2010 Kick-Off Join us on Friday, Aug. 6, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., for the kick-off of the 19th Annual START! Sussex County Heart Walk hosted by Delaware National Bank located at 20135 Dupont Blvd., Georgetown. A complimentary continental breakfast will be provided. Team Captain kits with all Heart Walk materials for the Oct. 2nd walk will also be distributed. Walking 30 minutes a day greatly reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke. Taking steps for those who can't will generate crucial dollars to fund research and education. Please join us in the Sussex County Start!

Lead paint protection law Legislation signed into law by Governor Jack Markell will dramatically expand the number of Delaware children who receive screening for heightened lead levels in their blood at the critical age of two. The law, written by Lieutenant Governor Matt Denn, Senator Patricia Blevins, and Representative Terry Schooley, will take effect 60 days after the issuance of final regulations by the Delaware Division of Public Health. Prior to enactment of the new law, Delaware law only required lead testing of children at age 1. The new law requires that physicians also test some children for elevated lead at age 2. Doctors will decide which children to give a second test for lead at age 2 based upon a risk screening mechanism to be developed by the state's Division of Public Health. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that lead levels peak in children at age 2. Therefore, testing at-risk children at age 2 in addition to testing all children at age 1 will allow doctors to detect more children with elevated lead levels and allow enforcement officials to address the environments in which those children are being exposed to lead.

Elevated blood levels have been demonstrated to have a devastating impact on children's central nervous systems, with symptoms that include reduced IQ and a myriad of behavioral problems.

Get healthy with the grandkids Everyone will agree the bond between grandparents and their grandchildren is unique, unconditional and has strength like no other. CHEER has joined forces with Nemours Health & Prevention and the Sussex Child Health Promotion Coalition to improve the health of all family members. Nemours Health Prevention Services is committed to helping people understand the causes and implications of being at an unhealthy weight. 5-2-1-Almost None is our way to promote a healthier lifestyle for children and families. It's as simple as following these suggestions and tips for healthier eating and physical activity: Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Spend no more than two hours per day in front of the screen (TV, Video games, recreational computer time). Brain exercise activities like: puzzles, board games, cards, reading, etc., helps prevent Alzheimer's disease. Get at least one hour of physical activity per day. Physical activity fights against diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Drink almost no sugary beverages like soda and sports drink - no more than two servings per week. Put this plan to work in your family and watch its success. Take a picture of you and your grandchild involved in a 5-2-1-Almost None activity and write a short description and send it to Cindy Mitchell at or CHEER, 546 S. Bedford St., Georgetown, DE 19947 and we will put it in our News & Views.

First Aid classes offered Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer community First Aid classes to anyone interested in learning first aid on Tuesday, Aug. 10 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Nanticoke Training Center located on Water Street in Seaford. Participants will learn basic first aid that will enable them to administer help during the first few moments until emergency responders arrive. Classes are open to participants ages 13 and up. The course covers cognitive learning, role-playing and skill practice. Cost is $30. Payment and registration is required by no later than five business days before the start of class. Late registrations (if seating is available) will be an additional $5 fee. To register, or for more information, contact the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Training Center office at 629-6611, ext. 8919. Pre-registration is required.

Alzheimer's Support Group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's next Alzheimer's Support Group meeting is at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 10, at LifeCare at Lofland Park's first floor Resident Lounge, 715 E. King St., Seaford. The support group is designed for family members and those providing care to individuals with Alzheimer's. The meetings consist of guest speakers who provide education, community resources and emotional support to those who have been affected by Alzheimer's and memory loss. Refreshments will be provided. Pre-registration is not required for this free support group. For more info, call 628-3000, Ext. 8302.

Healthy recipes contest Nanticoke Memorial Hospital and the Western Sussex Farmers Market are looking for your heart healthy recipes that use local seasonal produce. Submit your heart healthy recipes for a chance to win. On Saturday, Aug. 21 at 10 a.m., three entries will be prepared and shared at the Western Sussex Farmers Market (located at the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club) and will win a Nanticoke Memorial Hospital gift basket. Each recipe must: 1.Be your own original creation and not based on any other published recipe. 2.Include a list of all required ingredients including measured amounts (teaspoons, tablespoons, cups, etc.) 3.Include preparation and cooking instructions including cooking times and temperatures. 4.Include the number of servings per recipe. 5.Include at least one selection of local fresh seasonal produce. 6.Be a recipe easily reproducible by others. All recipes will be evaluated on originality, use of seasonal produce, being "heart healthy," texture, visual appearance and taste. Submission deadline is July 31. For complete contest rules, e-mail, visit, or call 629-6611, ext. 8948.

Autism Delaware tournament Sign up for Go Fish, a bass fishing tournament to benefit Autism Delaware's southern location and the advocacy, education and support services they provide to improve the lives of people with autism and their families. Go Fish will be held on Sunday, Sept. 19, at eight ponds throughout Kent and Sussex counties, and will be followed by a celebration at Milford's Bicentennial Park. Anglers of all ages and abilities are welcome. Each team of two can register for $40 and will receive an information and fundraising packet. Prizes, including a grand prize of $500 and special youth prizes, will be awarded at the celebration. The public is welcome to attend the celebration which will include fun for all ages with music by Code Blue, food from Go Fish of Rehoboth and kids games. Nominal fees will be charged for games and food for those not participating on a fishing team. Pro bass fisherman Mike DelVisco will fish in the tournament Sunday and participate in the celebration. There are 160 slots for fishing so register today by visiting or calling 422-2255.

Cancer support group at Nanticoke The Wellness Community-Delaware offers a General Cancer support group for people affected by cancer and their loved ones at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford. The support group meets in the second floor conference room of the Cancer Care center on the third Monday of each month from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The Wellness Community is dedicated to helping people affected by cancer enhance their health and well-being through participation in a professional program of emotional support and hope. Facilitators are trained mental health professionals with a master's degree or more. For more information or to register, call 645-9150. All support groups are free of charge. This program is made possible by the support of the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford. For more information, visit