ADHD - The Good, the Bad, & the Hidden
A Student's Thoughts
I spent my life in school struggling because of a hidden, often doubted, condition known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Focusing on the teachers while they were lecturing was nearly impossible. I couldn't separate the information I was supposed to learn from the other words they said. The clock would catch my attention just as easily as a squirrel outside or a person two rows in front of me tying their shoe. I wasn't avoiding paying attention, rather I was paying attention to EVERYTHING around me. To top it off, I drove the teachers crazy by tapping my pencil, shifting in my seat, doodling, or tapping my leg. Often, I didn't know I was even doing this. I would talk out or answer questions without raising my hand and generally act impulsively.
However, I found certain benefits to the condition as well. For instance, because I was distractible, I know I generally saw more of what was going on than my friends did and I picked up on unusual things. In this way, distractibility is a good thing. I was also able to do several things at the same time and had a lot of energy. As you may have figured out, I am also quite creative. If you can find ways to capitalize on the benefits of ADHD, having a student with it in the classroom can become enjoyable.
Here are some things for teachers and students, both with ADHD and without it to consider. First, my advice to the teachers:
- Sit ADHD students in the front, middle of the room. Both of you will benefit because the student will be more focused and you will be able to see the student more easily.
- Try to incorporate a variety of learning activities into your classes. I learned more easily from videos than from lectures. I was able to be an active learner when we did discussion activities. My ability to stay focused is higher if I am actively involved in learning.
- Use the tactic of keeping your eye on students. There seem to be two major ways teachers deal with problems. Either they ignore them or they constantly monitor them. Even though I hated being watched during class, I think I learned more teachers who kept me under control. (I think this is better for all the students in the class!)
- Keep the classroom door closed. Limit any kind of noise or activity so that it is less likely for ADD students to become distracted.
- Learn more about ADHD. Don't just glance at the literature that is coming across your desk. By understanding the condition, you'll understand your students more.
- Don't use ADHD as a cop out for your students. Make them do the same work as everyone else. People with ADHD have to learn to control their impulsiveness and school is one place they can practice their control.
- Work with you ADHD students one-on-one if you can. Both of you will benefit from the experience. You will have to keep up with the student in a nice way. Both of you will have to work hard to maintain a positive relationship.
- Never let the student think that you don't want to deal with him or her because of ADHD. This will only frustrate the student and lead to more problems in the classroom.
Now, for students with ADHD, I suggest a few things:
- You need to learn to control your impulsiveness. Try to use the classroom as a place to practice paying attention.
- Don't use ADHD as a cop out. You can't blame ADHD for your behavior. You need to take control of your life.
- Remember that as you mature, you'll get better at telling right from wrong. ADHD is all about this - being able to behave correctly in a situation.
- Set yourself up to succeed. Limit the distractions you cause for yourself. Try to sit in the front row. Don't look at the clock. Try to block what's going on around you.
One other thought for other students as well as the ADHD student and teacher include:
- Respect the person with ADHD. He or she did not choose to have it. ADHD is considered a legal disability.
By: Keenan Bosworth
This document was last updated 8/13/97 by Chandra Hawley.
Copyright 1996 Indiana University -Center for Adolescent Studies, Kris Bosworth - Director
is hearing a student say,
"Thank you for understanding me."