What is cognition?

Cognition is another word for thinking or understanding. It includes skills like speed of thinking, attention, reasoning, and problem solving. Some kids might need simplified information, and they may take longer to understand, think and respond.

Children with disabilities or developmental disorders may face challenges with some types of cognitive skills. These will vary depending on the child. Children with intellectual disability will experience some challenges with how quickly they can think and their ability to understand.

Children with other developmental disorders like autism spectrum disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder may have strengths in some areas of their thinking skills (such as understanding visual information or language) and challenges in other areas (like taking additional time to process information or having difficulty concentrating for longer periods). Each child is unique and will need a tailored approach to learning.

What might be some challenges on the footy field?

  • Children may appear to do activities incorrectly because they have not understood what they are meant to do.
  • They may become tired quickly from having to use their attention when trying to watch and copy what others are doing.
  • As new tasks are harder for them to understand or learn, they may become frustrated – it may look like they are misbehaving when what they are really showing is that they have not understood the instructions.

Quick tips

  • Repeat and simplify instructions: Use simple words and repeat. Some kids might need simple instructions which may need to be repeated multiple times. Learning a skill might require coaches to break it down into smaller explicit parts to learn individually and then eventually put it all together.
  • Use visual instructions: Visual instructions about how to do a skill might be needed. Consider using a flip chart with visual instructions when you are teaching.
  • Slow things down: Speak slowly. Move slowly. Slow down an activity the first few times it is played so kids have time to learn.
  • Use extra repetitions when learning skills: Some kids might just need extra practice for skills. Allow them to do more repetitions than other kids to learn the skill if needed.
  • Use delayed defence: Consider using a delayed defence rule, in which kids can choose three, five, or 10 seconds of delay before a defender can approach them in a game.
  • Shorten activities: Some kids might not be able to focus for a long time on one activity. Shortening activities might be needed.
  • Have a visual schedule: Use a visual schedule that kids can see at all times so they can easily transition from one activity to the next without having to remember.
  • Consider different roles: Consider different roles: Game play may sometimes be difficult for some kids. Kids can do other roles (e.g. umpire).
  • Change the rules so everyone can play: Make changes to the rules where appropriate so everyone can play. For example, have fewer rules and keep them simple.

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