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14 Things Your Kids Need to Know

14 Things Your Kids Need to Know

As an Educational Consultant for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students I have the unique opportunity to observe different grade levels, schools and districts. Although I am observing the student’s ability to access the curriculum being presented I also look around to identify those with ADHD and watch how they are accessing the curriculum, communicating with their peers and maintaining their focus. Here’s what I have noticed: Students are asked to focus for anywhere from 45-90 minutes without breaks. Many adults cannot focus for that long especially if they are only listening Often they don’t know what is important to focus on – so they try to focus on all of it Students either do not take any notes or try to write down everything that is said They wait for the teacher to say things like, “This is important.” They trust that they can remember the information They do not try to put the details together to get the bigger picture and end up trying to memorize random facts that don’t go together They do not realize that studying for a test begins in class Students do not know how to study Teachers are providing study guides that have “fill in the blank” answers and students think that if they memorize the sentences they will do well Students do not look at their textbooks unless specifically told to Often students only get a few days notice of upcoming tests or quizzes Students are shocked at how poorly they do on tests that they think they prepared for. 90% of my students think that 20 minutes is enough time...
Lights! Camera! Action! …..ACTION! 15 Steps to Get Going

Lights! Camera! Action! …..ACTION! 15 Steps to Get Going

Taking action and following through on something that has to be done is often difficult for those with ADHD or Executive Functioning challenges. In most cases, students and adults understand the importance of completing something but find it difficult to actually “move themselves” to action. What is happening in the brain, in my understanding, is that the level of dopamine is not sufficient to reliably carry messages/signals from one side of the brain to the other or to provide enough motivation for action. That makes this difficulty neurobiological and not motivational. There is a big difference there as often we have seen things get completed before and feel that if it can be done once why not every time? Such is life with ADHD and/or Executive Dysfunction. Inconsistent ability to take action doesn’t occur alone, it often involves other executive functions like, organization, planning, working memory, task initiation, self-regulation, focus and time management. So rather than it being one simple cause, it is often a combination of things that is getting in the way. Also not learning from previous experiences plays into why this same thing continues to happen over and over again. If possible try to break it down to see what is really getting in the way and work on one piece of the puzzle at a time. Here’s what it may look like in students: Inconsistent ability to complete homework regularly (or long hours spent doing it) Last minute approach to long term projects Being late or last minute May look like a lack of motivation, not caring, or teen age “attitude” Failing tests due to...
What DID I Come in Here For?

What DID I Come in Here For?

Have you ever walked into a room and forgotten what you went in there for? Or sent your child to do two things and they only did one? If this kind of thing happens often then it may be a working memory issue. Working Memory is an Executive Function skill that plays an important role in remembering what to do and how to do it.  It can have an impact on how much you and your child get done and how quickly and/or completely. Peg Dawson and Richard Guare1 define working memory as, “the ability to hold information in mind while performing complex tasks. It incorporates the ability to draw on past learning or experience to apply to the situation at hand or to project into the future.” This explains why your child can do the homework one night and the next night not have any idea. It also explains why things are left unfinished, or multiple step directions are not followed and why they do the same thing over and over even though they “know” or should know that it is wrong. It also interferes with learning from past mistakes. Multitasking or being distracted and not paying attention to details can also have an effect on your ability to use your working memory effectively. In Children it may look like: Difficulty following multi step directions (or forgets some but not all of the steps during a project) Struggles with math, especially processes of more than two or three steps (ex. long division). Struggles to get out the door in the morning or to remember the steps in a...
What is an Executive Function?

What is an Executive Function?

The term “executive function” or “executive dysfunction” refers to those skills that are used to “get things done” and to “manage oneself” and they are often associated with ADHD/ADD.  They develop in the precortex of the brain which is in the front forehead area and damage to this area can also impact the executive functions. I once heard it explained as the skills that a secretary or administrative assistant would handle for an executive. Those things like making sure appointments and schedules were made and kept, projects kept moving, tasks completed, etc. You may have heard it described as the conductor of an orchestra who can come in and transform the racket of multiple instruments tuning up into a beautiful symphony. Here is a more formal definition: The executive functions are a set of processes that all have to do with managing oneself and one’s resources in order to achieve a goal. It is an umbrella term for the neurologically-based skills involving mental control and self-regulation. Taken from: Joyce Cooper-Kahn and Laurie Dietzel (2008) http://www.ldonline.org/article/29122/ Why is this important? If your child has a weakness in one or more of the executive functions with or without ADHD then it might show up as: Spending hours on homework but be unable to find it when it is time to hand it in Last minute projects that take hours and change course several times Inability to sit down and get started on homework Messy backpacks and notebooks with papers hanging out everywhere Unaware of upcoming tests so fails to study and fails the test As an adult: Late fees on overdue...