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10 Strategies to Help ADHD

10 Strategies to Help ADHD

October was ADHD Awareness Month. Each year the media seems to do a bit more to publicize and educate but more can always be done.  There is not enough information out there geared to parents and children. So, I would like to help with some information my students find helpful. First up, the acronym ADHD which stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder really shouldn’t be the category name for the three types of ADHD (impulsive/hyperactive, inattentive and combined). Teens are often in denial because they say they aren’t “hyper” and so feel that it doesn’t apply to them. ADHD is a neurobiological condition – meaning it is the result of lower levels of neurotransmitter chemicals that are normally in the brain, which results in lower levels of stimulus in the brain. Non-technical definition: it is a chemical imbalance and not a personality/behavior or motivation problem. Just like near sightedness or hearing loss, it cannot be “fixed” at this point in time but it can be helped. People of all ages with ADHD that I have met are often very smart, they just have difficulty showing it sometimes. That’s often a combination of the lower level of chemicals and the executive function skills that are slower to develop. School challenges vary by individual but often ADHD can interfere by making it difficult to get started on a task, stay focused long enough to complete a task, remember when they have a task to do or find the task in their disorganization. It’s easy to see why homework and test taking is a challenge for these kids. 10 Strategies to Help...
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...
Choices, Choices, Choices

Choices, Choices, Choices

Choices….choices are all around us. We make choices consciously and unconsciously all day long. From the moment we wake up we are making choices about, what to wear, what to eat, where to pick up coffee, which priority to work on at work. Not to mention the choices in the media, on FaceBook, at the grocery store, etc. We are literally bombarded by choices. What if you could reduce the number of choices you have to make? You would free up working memory space that just might help you make a better decision about something that is important to you. When your working memory is full (it can only hold so much), it lets go of information. We have no control really of what it lets go of. This is also why teens often think they have studied enough, but end up not getting the grades they are capable of. If we look at all the choices we have we can suffer from decision paralysis, or making the quickest or easiest decision but not necessarily the “best” or “most right” decision for ourselves. Have you ever made a decision/choice that you later regretted or wished you had thought about longer? Is your willpower being drained? Are you moving in the direction of your dreams or are your ever-changing choices getting in the way? Then it is time to discover your “non-negotiables.” Non-negotiables are those choices/decisions you have made ahead of time and will stick to. You no longer have to even think about them. It is easiest, according to Darren Hardy of Success magazine to start with the things...
What is Executive Function?

What is Executive Function?

Executive dysfunction or executive function deficit is defined by Web MD as a “set of mental skills that help you get things done.” It is a simplified definition but when you break a task down into all the components needed to complete it, it is easier to see how having one or more weak areas can stop the progress. Just take a look at the processes and skills that are needed for “thinking” in the graphic to the left. That does not take into account the other skills needed to actually get something done. These executive function skills develop in the prefrontal cortex of the brain which continues to develop until around age 25. However, these skills seem to be really important during the teen age years, yet are not quite developed enough to be depended upon. Executive function skills help you: Manage time and be realistic about what you can and cannot do in the time available Regulate your emotions and behaviors to avoid saying or doing the wrong thing Determine what you should pay attention to and what you should not Switch focus based on the feedback you receive about the effectiveness of what you are doing Plan and organize in a logical, methodical way to complete tasks and thoughts. Remember what you need to remember at the right time Allows you to make decisions based on your past experiences and avoid repeating your mistakes In school, executive dysfunction can look like missing homework, forgetting to study for tests, doing poorly, spending hours on homework, or not being able to find things they know they have. One...
How to Remember

How to Remember

The first and most important skill in learning is the ability to remember. If you can’t remember the information you certainly cannot use it for problem solving, creative thinking or critical thinking. The graphic on the left is a representation of the “revised” Bloom’s Taxonomy. The lower green section used to be called “knowledge” when this first came out in the 1950’s. It was revised in the 1990’s and all the nouns were changed to verbs to show that learning is more action oriented. It progresses from the bottom and most basic of skills (remembering) to the top showing the most advanced or higher level thinking skill of creating (called synthesis on the earlier version). The ability to remember is dependent on a number of factors.  Have you ever forgotten why you entered a room or the name of a person you just met? It could have been due to attention, motivation, emotion or relevancy. These are the same things that affect your son or daughter’s ability to remember also. FIRST: Get ready to pay attention – this tells the brain to focus on the important and disregard the unimportant. Make sure basic needs are met (food, water, sleep, safety, belonging, etc.) Make sure emotions are in check (emotions control the brain’s ability to remember) What motivates? (intrinsic vs extrinsic) Make learning personal (connect it in a meaningful way to your or your child’s life) THEN: Manage the distractions – write down anything that interrupts your thinking and deal with it later Visualize what you need to remember (often the crazier the easier to remember) Use color, shape, placement,...