Many parents and teachers who have and teach children with ADD/ADHD know the difficulties that come with it. Issues like distractibility, hyperactivity, frustration are issues that tend to hinder their ability to learn in the traditional way. This is why teachers and parents need to come up with new adaptive strategies to help make learning easier. It is true that not every child learns the same but when dealing with ADD/ADHD the approach needs to be modified for optimal learning and to be able to heighten these children qualities and correct shortcomings.

People mainly associate ADD/ADHD with distractibility. The inability to concentrate on any one subject for extended periods of time is one of the main downfalls to this disorder. It makes an otherwise simple task 10x more difficult both for the child as well as the parent/teacher. One simple way to alleviate the stress is by making the lessons short. When the lesson or task is too long, try breaking it down into smaller and simpler tasks. In the end show the child everything they did so they are able to correlate what they did with what the true task was. This will help them realize how they can learn best. Math is a great way to introduce with new way of teaching. It lends itself to being broken down into smaller and more manageable tasks. Small rewards after finishing an instruction creates a positive reinforcement that will keep them on track and a consistent reinforcement will stay with them long after they finish school. As a child learns to self-reinforce correctly, they are no longer limited to extreme distractibility and are able to manage it appropriately. Many other factors come into play when dealing with this part of the disorder. Many of it falls under the ability to control the environment. Making the best you can out of the situation you are in and making every situation a opportunity to teach the child how to cope with their surroundings and themselves.

Hyperactivity and distractibility are two issues that go hand in hand. Children with ADD/ADHD seem to be in constant motion. Most of the time they cannot stay still and are always looking for the next thing to do. It seems at time that they are focused on the next three things rather than what is in front of them. This can be difficult to deal with in a traditional classroom or at home schooling. Dealing with this is dependent on the specific student and how they learns best. If they need to pace back and forth while doing a math problem, let them. Since they can be thinking three moves ahead keep in mind one of those is the task you just requested. Letting them do this is a useful tool because it allows the student to tire out quicker and commit things to memory.

The conventional thought of learning is that students cannot learn if they are distracted with their hands or eyes. This is not a factor when teaching students with ADD/ADHD. Most often they learn best while multitasking, and usually cannot think correctly if not doing two things at a time. Bouncing on a ball or fidgeting with a fidget spinner are great tools for children with this disorder. Mindless actions that keep them engaged and not distracted is what teachers and parents should be aiming to do.

When these students fall into a repetitive lessons or tasks that require more than they are currently able to put out it becomes too stressful. These students become easily frustrated at lessons they feel they cannot understand quickly or lessons they feel they do not need to keep learning. It is important to notice the difference and see when to move on in a lesson or hold back and break it down into smaller simpler tasks. Often times things like reading and writing are the most frustrating lessons to do. Reading is repetitive and there is no way around it. Have students in short intervals and redirect their attention continuously. Increasing the interval times to try to help build their reading tolerance is a great way to manage the frustration.  Writing is also one of the tasks these students have a hard time mastering. Their thoughts are going way faster than their hand is writing and this can become increasingly frustrating. If the resources are available, try to have them learn keyboard skills. It is easier for them to get their thoughts out faster than writing on paper. If this is not an option, work on spelling and writing in small tasks, mastering one word at a time, improving to small quick sentences, and eventually a paragraph.

There is no denying it is a long process, often longer than the majority of the students. Allow students to work at a pace adapted for their abilities, do not be afraid to teach in a nontraditional way and modify lessons to optimize learning. Traditional lessons might hinder children with this disorder and slow down the process. Small adaptations can speed up the process and create a less stressful experience for the child helping them learn the best way they can.



Daniela Zapata

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