ADD/ADHD – Attention Deficit Disorder

by Linda Silbert,

Having an attentional issue does not necessarily mean that a child or adult has ADD or ADHD. (ADHD is an attention deficit problem with physical hyperactivity.) In fact, most people have trouble staying focused on what they are doing if the phone rings, if people are talking nearby, if traffic is rushing past the window, or if loud music is playing. Distractions are everywhere, creating an ongoing impediment to focusing even for people with no neurological dysfunction. In other words, having difficulty sustaining focus is one of the most common problems kids have. This is normal.

Difficulty focusing is only one of the symptoms seen in children diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. There are many reasons children may have problems with attention. But don’t ignore them. If a child’s symptoms become excessive and you suspect ADD/ADHD, discuss your observations with your pediatrician.

Symptoms of ADD/ADHD:

  • Has difficulty paying close attention to details or makes careless mistakes on homework or tests.
  • Has difficulty sustaining attention at virtually anything.
  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  • Does not follow through with instructions and often fails to finish schoolwork.
  • Avoids schoolwork that has to be done over a long period of time, like a term paper or major project.
  • Often loses or misplaces books or assignments. Becomes distracted easily.
  • Seems to “fidget” all the time. Has difficulty remaining seated.
  • Seems to always want what he wants when he wants it.

Strategies for Working with Students with ADD/ADHD:

  • Try to change activities with reasonable frequency.
  • If your child complains that he can’t stay focused when reading, suggest he sub-vocalize or use a highlighter.
  • Provide 10-minute breaks once every half hour. Have a snack ready, let him shoot a few baskets or take a short walk outdoors.
  • Give him or her a timer to use when doing homework or studying. This helps to keep on task and work at a good pace. If using a timer distracts or creates anxiety, use a clock and alarms to determine when to take breaks.
  • Spread assignments over time whenever possible. Studying or writing a report a little each day, rather than in one sitting, makes the process more manageable.
  • Demonstrate how to skim books and chapters. Let your child read the title of the chapter and try to guess what that chapter is about. Have him read the headings and look at the pictures and the captions beneath them. When skimming is done, see if he can answer the questions at the end of the chapter.
  • While reading a textbook or notes in class, have your student stop and ask himself what he just read. Let him write down everything he can remember. If he can’t remember much, have him reread the material and write down ideas or draw pictures, graphs, or charts during the process—anything that will help him to stay focused long enough to remember the information.

Please visit the Strong Learning website for more information.

Author: Michael Leppert

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