Letter to the editor: Distracted, but Not Worthless

Posted on 05 May 2017 by Ian Schrauth

Living with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder…

Living with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) is a daily struggle. From not being able to focus on the simplest tasks to forgetting about assignments and appointments, having ADHD can be very discouraging. The three defining symptoms of ADHD are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Some people struggle with all three, while some only struggle with one or two. Basically, ADHD is different for everyone who has it.

There are many negative stigma against people with ADHD. Because of these stigma, a lot of people are afraid to tell others about their ADHD. This lack of communication has caused many people to believe that ADHD is not a real disorder, or it is not a real problem for those who have it. I can personally tell you this is not the case. I was diagnosed with ADHD in the third grade and have been struggling with it ever since. Like many people with ADHD, my symptoms have continued into my adult life. I am where I am today because of the support and care of those around me. However, many people with ADHD are suffering, and they are doing so in silence.

I have encountered numerous people who want to help, but they have no idea where to start. Many instructors may not be aware there are simple steps to help their students with ADHD.

People with ADHD often struggle with inattention, meaning they can’t stay focused on one thing for long periods of time. When teaching someone with ADHD it’s helpful to break the information up into manageable chunks. Instead of giving them all the steps to an assignment at once, give them one or two steps at a time and then coming back to check on their progress. Big projects can become overwhelming very quickly, and breaking it down makes it seem more doable.

I find adding visuals to a lesson can help keep students engaged. The easiest thing for someone with ADHD to do when looking at a board full of words is to zone out. It has nothing to do with their ability or desire to learn. If the lesson is interesting and engaging it is much easier to focus.

Sitting for hours at a time for someone with ADHD is very difficult. A short break in the middle of class can help those who struggle with hyperactivity to give them a chance to refocus.

Another problem many people with ADHD struggle with is forgetting things like assignments or appointments. One thing you can do is follow up oral conversations with emails, so the person has a written copy as well.

The important thing to remember is everyone learns differently. While these will work for some people, they will not work for everyone. Ask the student if there is any way you can help them, and maybe suggest a few things to give them ideas. Chances are they know how they learn best. By doing these simple things you can help someone with ADHD reach their full potential.

 

– Hannah Jones, student

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