Let us know about your own experiences of working with AD(H)D students. We’d love to hear what’s working (and what’s not)!
I gleaned some useful tips from a Connections In Mind webinar this week who were chatting to ADHD 360. According to them, one of the biggest issues for AD(H)D students is procrastination: not being able to start a task, leaving things to the last minute and ending up working under extreme time pressure.
Students need to understand the big picture and why the information they are learning is important. Very small adjustments to how we teach them can also provide motivation. Interestingly studies have shown that AD(H)D students read more when information is presented on a computer screen rather than on a piece of paper. The very action of a student needing to scroll a mouse to gain the ‘reward’ of being able to read more of the text provides the motivation to engage.
I’ve often extolled this as the best way to work with students. However, I hadn’t quite made the connection as to how it hugely increases the motivation and reward structure of a lesson. For example, by dividing the lesson into 15 minute tasks with 5 minute breaks (reward), there are more opportunities for success and reward situations in one session. This massively increases motivation. The Pomodoro Technique/app could be really useful for some students.
This can be tricky. Always bear in mind use of multi-media, open-ended questions, pictures, and multi-sensory techniques to spark interest. Parents of AD(H)D students often question their diagnosis because their child will often be able to focus on tasks they enjoy, such as playing on their X Box, building Lego and so on. So how can they possibly have AD(H)D?! This is because the dopamine reward system kicks in when a student is motivated and engaged. This is what enables them to focus and pay attention. If we pique their interest and make a topic relevant, students will be motivated and able to focus more easily.
Check in on your student during the week with a text or a call. Or ask someone in their household to be their partner. Making the student accountable for their work and checking in on them regularly can really help.
These students can often feel overwhelmed with too many tasks. This again leads to procrastination and inaction. One of the simplest tips is to use a post it note with the words, “Today I will focus on:” and just 3 achievable tasks. Do the worst/least appealing thing first!
There are no ‘quick fixes’ to stopping procrastination – changing habits takes time. But by persisting with these techniques and facilitating better habits, eventually students will become less stuck in procrastination mode.
To find out more about this topic, visit Connections in Mind.
Sarah Cox, SEN Consultant