Learners with ADD and ADHD fight an uphill battle every day of his or her life. He or she is asked to go to a place that creates a difficult scenario five days a week and then expected to continue the work even after they come home. It may not be that the student doesn’t enjoy learning, it just becomes an overwhelming process. So instead of going back to the place that creates issues, he or she would rather avoid it.
Let’s think of this another way; imagine school is a large piece of food (let’s say a steak). You cannot just pick it up and eat it. You need to have a knife and fork to cut the food into smaller pieces. Many learners with ADD/ADHD will look at school like a big piece of food without any silverware and have no idea what to do. So instead of finding a way to eat, the learner would rather go hungry. He or she lacks the tools to manage the situation.
There’s a second layer to this whole thing. We then grade the individual’s performance based on letters. So when the letters aren’t up to a high-level, we immediately start to throw another twist in the lives of young learners. He or she will hear things like work harder, do better, stop wasting time, etc. It becomes a never-ending process of stress.
In my work with clients, I try to avoid using the word grades. That doesn’t mean these aren’t important, but it becomes another stressor in the learner with ADD/ADHD’s life. So instead, we discuss performance. Is a learner performing at his or her peak? Is there anything that he or she can do to better facilitate learning performance? Can we support learning performance away from school?
Now the last one becomes tricky. Because as we all know, people with ADD/ADHD can be manipulative (and I raise my hand). So there’s a difference between facilitating and enabling. We want to help learners perform better, but we don’t want to enable his or her efforts. That’s why grades become dangerous. Because we obviously want to see learners do well, but when grades become the benchmark of success, we want to help improve grades and ignore performance.
There’s a lot to digest here; but the most important thing to keep in mind is that when grades become the benchmark of success, learners will become overwhelmed to the whole process. Just working on improving performance and not making it about grades will ease the pressure and help a learner more comfortable with school.
For more information on my ADD, ADHD and Executive Functioning coaching, please visit www.adhdefcoach.com. In addition to working with clients in-person, I also work with clients all over the United States and World online, please visit www.onlineadhdcoach.com for more information. To learn more about my other services, please visit www.carrolleducationalgroup.com & www.iepexperts.com. I can be found on Twitter at ADHDGuru. You can also find me on Facebook, Google Plus and Tumblr. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 877.398.ADHD (2343) with any additional questions.