The following are some comments on attention by my good friend Wendy Lawson. You can find more about Wendy from her web site: http://www.mugsy.org/wendy/
Sweet Wendy Lawson: psychologist, educator, mother, and author.
Attention: noticing, becoming aware.
Attending: staying aware, giving your attention too.
With the above in mind it’s easy to judge someone as being inattentive, not caring, lazy, bad mannered and so on, if when you talk to them they fail to respond. Your sentiments about the person might be well founded if that individual is neurologically typical and fully ‘aware’ of your talking to them and of what your speaking implies. But, what if the individual was on the autism spectrum and they either could not attend to you, what you were saying or what your speech implied?
I suggest that an individual with an autism spectrum condition (ASC) fails to note what might be said to them because their ‘attention system’ which needs to include ‘interest’ to be triggered sufficiently, may be off line. Then, even if their ‘attention’ and ‘interest’ are triggered, they will still process the information slowly, piece by piece due to their information processing being single chanelled. With us, it’s one thing at a time and our ‘interest’ system needs to be on board. If not, we can be overwhelmed with too much information (noise) and we either switch off or close down. Using our ‘interest’ (passion) to build a connection to understanding is a better way to go. This allows us to feel valued as well as give us an opportunity to notice.