ADHD and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) refer to a range of behaviours linked with poor attention span. ADHD is thought to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain that affects the parts controlling attention, concentration and impulsivity. A person with ADHD has difficulty filtering out all the information coming into their brain. You may be easily distracted, tend to respond before having thought things through properly and not knowing when to stop. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is the same condition without hyperactivity.
How does ADHD affect my learning?
Attention span: You may have severe difficulty when trying to focus and maintain attention. Sometimes you will be able to sit still, but be unable to get focused. You may miss important points, lose things, and fail to pay close attention to details. You may distract others by talking to them at times when they should be listening to instructions/directions. You may find that you are likely to speak out of turn and out of context.
Staying on task: You will often be bored with repetitive tasks. You often complete tasks of low priority or those that you enjoy rather than the more urgent tasks or those that you dislike, or you put off important tasks to a later time. You may find yourself staring into space and seeming to be ‘in another world’. This may be because you feel depressed or it could be linked to how the medication that you are taking makes you feel.
Working: You may have difficulty in ordering your thoughts. This makes it hard to plan tasks, start them and complete them on time. You may find that certain times of the day are better and that you have other times when concentrating and focusing is particularly difficult. Being unable to concentrate means that often tasks are left unfinished.
Short-term memory: You may have difficulty remembering and recalling recently learned information or skills. You may often miss appointments and deadlines. You may forget to write down homework and make notes.
Producing writing:You may struggle to get thoughts onto paper in an ordered way. You may have poor handwriting and spelling.
Strategies to help you at college:
Behaviour/attention: Sitting near the front of the class will help you with your concentration. Maintain eye contact when listening to instructions. Check that you have understood the instructions. Negotiate agreements so that you can manage your behaviour – time out, change of task.
Resources: Use technology and software such as Inspiration, a programme designed to help organise paragraphs, essays and reports.
Personal organisation: Write homework and deadlines in a diary. Pack your equipment needed for College or activities the night before. Make lists of things that need to be completed and tick them off when you have completed them. Organisation apps can help with this.
Instructions: Break large tasks into smaller chunks, for example taking a longer essay and working through each point in the brief. Make colourful and visually-interesting notes as this can aid memory and concentration. Ask for an outline of what is to be covered in the lesson – knowing what to expect in a session will help you to be less restless and more focussed.
Use of language: Use a dictionary to look up words that you do not understand. Write all the words down and their meaning in a glossary so that you can look at it rather than having to keep looking them up. Have this somewhere to hand – in a diary, class folder or mobile phone. If you are using your glossary in your phone make sure your tutor knows.
Music: When completing homework try having music on in the background. The music should be quiet and without lyrics.
Examinations: You may be entitled to exam concessions. See more information on Exam Access Arrangements.
Last updated: 6th November 2018