Executive Function and ADHD
Attention Deficit (Hyperactivity) Disorder (ADD/ADHD) is a neurological and behavioral disorder most often diagnosed during childhood, but often continuing through adulthood. Individuals with ADHD often have difficulty staying focused and paying attention, have problems with controlling behavior, and experience hyperactivity. ADHD can manifest differently in different individuals, with some being predominantly hyperactive or impulsive, some being primarily inattentive, and others showing a combination of both types.
The ADHD symptoms associated with inattention are closely linked to difficulties with executive functions. Students with ADHD often have difficulty focusing on one thing and have difficulty with organization, work completion, processing speed, and following directions. In addition, students with hyperactivity or impulsivity can have difficulty sitting still for activities which require consistent focus and may be impatient to complete tasks without thinking them through.
At Engaging Minds, because our sessions involve one tutor working with one student, we can tailor a variety of approaches to meet the needs of the individual child. For students who are easily distracted, working in a room away from external stimuli and facing away from the door can help with concentration. Allowing students who have trouble sitting still to have frequent movement breaks and move about the tutoring room while they are thinking or planning leads to a better ability to concentrate when they need to sit down and focus on the task at hand. Developing a relationship with the tutor helps students to feel comfortable in the tutoring session and can help minimize the occurrence of impulsive outbursts. The systematic and organized approach to working with students that is employed at Engaging Minds also provides students with a comforting degree of predictability. While we do work with our students to help them become more adaptable and flexible across a variety of situations, we also help students with ADHD to internalize sequential, prescribed ways of approaching their schoolwork so they can succeed with increasing independence.
Many of the same techniques we use during sessions at Engaging Minds can also be employed at home and in school. Students with ADHD often benefit from a work environment with limited distractions. At home, parents can try to set up a specific quiet work space that is free of clutter and external distractions such as electronics, television, or music. Students may also be able to attend to tasks more effectively if they have frequent breaks. Parents can allow scheduled breaks for non-distracting, movement-based activities, such as taking short walks or shooting baskets for ten minutes. Students with ADHD also usually work best within a familiar and consistent schedule. Having a specific time set aside to do work, after dinner each night for example, can help students to know what exactly is expected of them and when they need to maintain focus.
The skills and organizational techniques students learn at Engaging Minds can help students with ADHD to succeed in spite of their difficulties. Individuals with ADHD struggle with executive functioning in all aspects of their lives, not merely with academics. What students learn at Engaging Minds extends beyond the tutoring session and the classroom, and can help students to thrive in their day-to-day lives.