All About ADHD
What is attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD)? According to psychologist Dr. Michelle Frank, it is the deregulation of executive functioning and self-regulation in the brain. Often, ADHD leads to challenges with attentional control, working memory, emotional regulation, and awareness of time. Although ADHD includes the word “deficit,” those with ADHD experience inconsistent rather than deficient attention spans. If left unaddressed, ADHD can often lead to poor judgement and negative consequences as students grow older. In this blog we will cover how each aspect of ADHD manifests itself, misconceptions, treatment options, and how to most effectively help a student with ADHD.
Often when people think of students with ADHD, they think those students have an inability to focus. However, students with ADHD actually tend to hyper focus on things that interest them, like video games or Legos, while lacking focus with things that bore them. It’s not that those with ADHD cannot focus, it’s that their ability to focus is irregular. Often, this irregulation leads to incomplete work and difficulty planning, scheduling, or following through. Students with ADHD often do not know what they need to do, what’s missing, or what’s coming. Consequently, those with ADHD have a hard time keeping up which can lead to feelings of inadequacy, overwhelm, depression, or anxiety; they constantly feel like they are behind the 8-ball.
The hyperactivity element of ADHD often leads to impulsivity which can manifest itself in lack of spacial boundaries, frequent interrupting, constant talking, constant motion, and inability to sit still. In school, students with ADHD have a hard time waiting in line, being with other kids, or working quietly on their own. At the core of hyperactivity is impulsivity; all of the aforementioned behaviors are a result of being impulsive. The main cause of this is the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed. Often as students grow, mature, and seek support, their prefrontal cortex will develop, and the behaviors of ADHD will become less pronounced. However, sometimes this does not happen and hyperactivity morphs into impulsivity in adulthood.
The most common misconception about ADHD is it’s a willful defiance. More often, ADHD is the inability to control one’s own emotions and behaviors. At Wright Academics, we operate on the premise that a student will do what they can once they understand how. Often, behavioral issues are more about something that’s going on in a student’s life rather than a willful decision to ignore authority. They’re not a bad student, they just have something going on.
Which brings me to the next misconception: You can deal with an ADHD student the same way you would a non-ADHD student. If you ask a student with ADHD to remember their homework and plan ahead, it’s like telling an anxious person to relax…they would if they could! Something to keep in mind: often students with ADHD work so hard to manage their attention in school that at the end of the day, they are exhausted and fall apart because they are so tired.
Things to Look For
You might be wondering if you student has ADHD. Below is a list of things to look for. While this list is by no means comprehensive, it can give you a solid starting point.
- lack of attention to detail
- lack of follow through
- verbal instructions
- lack of organization (especially losing really important things like coats, phones, wallets)
- poor time management
ADHD is a range. When it becomes more serious, you can see issues with aggression, too. These issues can look like:
- disproportionate responses
- tendency to blame others frequently
- social difficulty
- frequent mood changes (depression, anxiety)
- Combative, argumentative tendencies
- poor judgment (can lead to drug or alcohol use and car accidents)
ADHD does tend to run in families, so if one or both parents or siblings have ADHD, the odds of their children having ADHD are much higher.
Treating ADHD involves supporting a student in many different areas. In terms of medication, consulting with a psychiatrist or pediatrician is the best way to determine if medication is right for your student. If you decide to use a pediatrician, make sure they are well versed in medication management for ADHD and anxiety. For the emotional regulation piece, many students find therapy helpful. At Wright Academics, we help with the executive functioning portion of supporting the student. We help them manage their time, physical space, materials, and how they learn and take in information. Because we are so hands on, we take time to develop individualized strategies that work for each student.
We all struggle with something, and often our struggles make us unique. At Wright Academics, we choose to look at learning differences as untapped superpowers. If you think your student might be struggling with ADHD, consulting your pediatrician or a child psychologist is a great place to start.
Interested in learning more about ADHD or the unique services we offer students with ADHD? Click HERE.
About Evelyn Wright
Evelyn Wright is the Director of Wright Academics, a tutoring business created to target kids’ specific needs. Her passion is helping students and families succeed so that they achieve their maximum potential in and out of the classroom.
With over 25 years of experience working with children and their families in public and private schools, as well as in private practice, Evelyn’s focus is understanding the individual’s learning profile, guiding families of children with learning differences and matching students to the tutor or coach that best fits the student. She believes in not only matching educational needs to the right tutor’s skills, but matching a student to the tutor with the right personality.