Learning with ADHD
The reality for many ADHDers in the school system is a nightmare. It is a horrible place to learn; like herding cattle: claustrophobic, prodded to perform with a desire for open pasture.
Classrooms are packed with kids and one lone teacher who serves the masses not the 1. The ADHDer is pushed along through school by sear intelligence and intuitiveness. All the while believing they are “stupid and dumb”. Finally, when the ADHDer is out of school, they have no skills to study, learn or manage themselves. Not realizing they were never taught how to do those things. Maybe they figure it out on their own and start becoming successful and finding their place in this world; at the expense of a decade or two being forced to perform in a box.
So what is a parent, loved one, or ADHDer to do?
Here are 10 tips that parents and teachers can do to support the ADHDer and the ADHDer can do to support themselves:
6 p’s! Proper prior planning prevents poor performance!
If you can have a plan of action before beginning things will go much smoother. The ADHDer can be told and see what’s first, second, and third. When they inevitably drift off, they know just where to jump right back in.
Teach or do homework (or work work) in short 15-20 min increments
To the last tip, drifting is just something they do. To keep momentum and mitigate as much “drifting” as possible. Plan for it with increments.
Try to find lessons and instructions in audio or video form
Youtube is becoming search engine these days, and more often than not you’ll find homework help by someone more excited, enthused and interactive than the parent or teacher. And it’s FREE! Also, leverage audio books. I only do audiobooks now; I don’t have time to reread a page 3 times and I can speed up the audio to keep my attention. (try this FREE trial from my podcast audibletrial.com/informedconsent )
Repeat directions, write them down, have them write them down, have them visible, remind them of directions. And also repeat directions
Again, mitigate “drifting”. It isn’t about the ADHDer not being smart enough to learn, it’s about them focusing long enough to absorb information. So like tip #1: plan for it with reminders.
Suggest they write notes to themselves about what questions they may having during class or work time
To keep the ADHDer engaged and to help them remember questions that pop up during class or meetings, have them write down whatever comes to mind so they can follow-up. Otherwise forgetting when class or the meeting is over; it may not come back up until it’s too late.
Do something hands on
If you can find a way to teach or learn by doing leverage it first and foremost. ADHDers love to move, why not use this advantage?
Standing up while doing work
Standing allows the ADHDer to shift, stand on one foot and wiggle as much as they want. This will help them stay focused and get rid of the “he never sits still!” issue.
Allow for “movement or energy” breaks
ADHDer’s have a lot of energy, they get antsy, irritated and need a break. Account for this and allow for time to take a walk, do push-ups, burpees, whatever, a few times an hour.
Technology is so amazing these days! Many apps help the ADHDer stay on task, set reminders, learn, and get our work done faster and with greater ease. Leverage this as much as you can and feel free to experiment with all kinds apps for a few weeks.
Remember the emotional part of learning
Probably the most important tip: Learning can be emotional. If there is a narrative in the ADHDer that they are dumb or stupid (refer to “My Story with ADHD” for my old story). Be mindful of this and remind the ADHDer of their strengths. Never forget to reflect that in school and some jobs they may not be able to express those strengths fully because of the systems in place.