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Empowering Students with ADHD

There are many ways to improve the quality of teaching students with ADHD. While it's true that ADHD makes focusing and memory recall difficult, there are ways to improve these abilities for greater academic success. Instead of limiting students with ADHD by accepting supposed limitations, building certain skills can empower students to reach new goals. Certain foundation skills for learning provides the building blocks that lead to greater academic success. These foundation skills are commonly known as cognitive skills.


What Are Cognitive Skills?

Cognitive skills are the core skills your brain uses to take in information and sort it into categories to accomplish your everyday tasks. These skills develop during childhood and improve with practice and methodology. Cognitive skills include perception, memory, attention, processing, logic and reasoning, and mobility. These skills are necessary to pay attention, read, learn, reason, and even move the muscles in your body.

Developing cognitive skills during childhood is a vital building block that leads to the ability to process more complicated assignments as your child grows. While you might think the ability to focus on certain tasks is only related to your child's level of interest, it's actually a tactic learned during early childhood. Similarly, any student can strengthen memory skills with practiced methods designed to work with her unique way of thinking. Learning skills to improve memory, perception, sustained attention, and reasoning can help your student better understand other subjects.

How Cognitive Skills Training Helps Students with ADHD

Often, students with inattentive ADHD show no signs of the hyperactivity generally associated with ADHD. These students are generally quiet, well behaved, and eager to learn. However, staying on task and avoiding distractions proves to be a difficult obstacle to overcome. As a result, students with ADHD appear to be bored and disruptive during class. Unfortunately, busy teachers often misunderstand this behavior as disinterest or unwillingness to learn.

Since ADHD affects the brain in ways that make both memory and perception difficult to grasp, putting together the skills required to complete a task can be impossible. A student with ADHD may be enthusiastic about completing a project when the teacher gives the assignment, yet he ultimately fails to finish, or sometimes even begin, the project. The reason for this gap isn't that the student loses interest or is too lazy to actually do the work. It's simply because he lacks the skills to analyze the assignment in a way that makes organization and planning possible. In other words, a student with ADHD may be able to visualize a completed project, but not know where to begin, or how long the steps will take.

Cognitive training works to help students with ADHD build the skills they need to concentrate, stay on task, and switch between tasks as needed. When students with ADHD learn methods to build and apply cognitive skills, other subjects become easier to learn as well. Cognitive skills training builds a foundation for students with ADHD to apply to all academic subjects as well as other daily tasks.


Is ADHD a Behavioral Disorder or a Cognitive Functioning Disorder?

In the past, ADHD has predominantly been treated as a behavioral disorder. In these cases, skills have been developed to avoid hyperactivity, impulse control, and lack of physical organization. More recent theories suggest that in many cases, behavioral problems related to ADHD arise from the inability to master cognitive functioning skills. If you have a child with ADHD, you know all the difficulties that arise during school, but learning exactly what causes these problems can be harder to see. To determine whether your child has behavioral disorders or cognitive functioning disorders, you first need to examine her behavior and sample treatments for potential success.

Executive Dysfunction

Cognitive skills like memory, logical thinking, and organization are vital to complete academic assignments and everyday tasks with ease. Executive Function Disorder (EFD) occurs when a person's brain lacks the cognitive tools to effectively analyze, plan, and carry out a task from start to finish. A student with EFD may misplace materials for assignments, have trouble setting schedules, lose personal items, and often appear disorganized and messy. It's incredibly disheartening to see your child clearly trying to accomplish these skills other students seem to grasp so easily and frustrating when teachers don't recognize the effort.

Executive Dysfunction Disorder and inattentive ADHD are remarkably similar. The conditions may even respond to some of the same treatments. Still, there are important differences to be noted. Not every child with ADHD develops learning disabilities. However, when EFD goes undiagnosed, students don't learn the early basics of subjects like spelling, reading, and mathematics. The absence of these early learning skills will lead to struggles as students are expected to build upon the information to solve more complicated problems.

Key Differences Between EFD and ADHD

Students with ADHD do experience executive function disorders. However, some students who don't have ADHD also struggle with the same difficulties. Here are a few ways parents and teachers can tell the difference.

  • A student with ADHD often doesn't seem to listen when spoken to, while a student with EFD might simply have trouble waiting his turn to speak.
  • While both students have trouble with concentration, the student with ADHD often fidgets frequently or seems to be driven by a motor.
  • Both students may have trouble thinking before acting, but students with ADHD may interrupt frequently and talk excessively.
  • Both students often exhibit difficulties with memory and organizational skills, students with EFD aren't likely to respond to medications typically prescribed for ADHD.

The Skills Your Child Needs

Kentwood Preparatory teachers use proven techniques for success like modeling proper behavior, positive feedback, and memory building activities to build and improve upon the cognitive skills your child needs.

Call (561) 649-6141 to ask how we can help.


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