Tips for ADHD Students
As mentioned in part one, if you are an adult student, you can advocate for yourself and make many of the following changes for yourself.
I am also writing to parents of children with ADD or ADHD, and they may need to be more involved to help make the changes both at home and at school.
Last time, I talked about the environment at home and at school. This week, it is all about the tasks themselves.
- Give only one task at a time. Too many tasks will only confuse a student with attention challenges. With only one task, he or she can more readily focus in one area.
- Break each task into a series of parts. Just as many tasks at once can be confusing, some assignments require several different parts to be done or consolidated. By breaking a larger assignment into individual components and then focusing only on each part, the student again has a better opportunity to stay on track.
- Helping the student attend to directions is essential.
When oral directions are being provided, try to have the student look at the teacher, tutor, parent, etc. Eye contact is important for everyone, but especially for those who have difficulty attending to detail. Often, it is a good idea to have the student repeat the directions back once delivered. (Of course, keeping the directions short and to the point would be best.) If you are the student, you can practice by saying the directions aloud to yourself (assuming this is your homework session, and you won’t be disturbing others).
For written instructions, it is always a good idea to have the student (at first you might need to help him or her) underline, highlight, or circle key words before beginning a task. Also, helping the student to go back over the directions (and examples if any are provided) once started to ensure that he or she is on the right path can be enormously helpful.
Remember the study buddy? He or she can be very useful in this regard as well.
- In some cases, ADD or ADHD students have difficulty getting their thoughts onto the page. They can have fine motor control issues that add to their inability to focus for long periods of time, and this can become extremely frustrating. A frustrated person cannot focus for long!
Using a computer can help solve some of these issues. The student will begin to see more text and feel like he or she is getting somewhere. With added confidence, students often generate a lot more volume and, with practice, better quality material.
I must admit, however, that I don’t think the computer or computer programs solve all issues. I still think students should try to improve their fine motor skills, for example. I do think it is helpful to know how to spell, structure a sentence, create a paragraph, etc. both with and without a computer.
The computer, the calculator, and other devices are exceptional tools that can be used to help everyone in their lives and work. They can also hamper progress at times and create massive difficulties later when opportunities knock, and you are not ready to open the door!
All of our weaker points can be strengthened with practice. If you have a limited attention span, it can be lengthened. If your focus is weak, it can be strengthened.
If you need to use an accommodation for a particularly weak area – great, but that should not mean that you completely give up on learning or improving the skill!
Just because writing is a challenge or memorizing the multiplication tables seems impossible now, that does not mean you can never do it.
Stay strong, keep practising, and challenge yourself every day. You will feel better for your accomplishments.
Use the identification of ADD, ADHD, or any other learning challenge, as a starting point to building your education and empowering yourself.
Tips for ADHD Students Part 2!