It is challenging for a student who has ADHD to pay close attention to what someone is saying. Being able to engage thoroughly has three distinct components:
- Divided attention or being able to focus on several important points at the same time
- Sustained attention or being able to stay focused on a task
- Selected concentration or the ability of a student to sort and discard distractions or unrelated incoming data quickly, and to remain focused on the significant information or instruction.
School revolves around following directions and some students consistently have a difficult time with this concept. It's important for teachers and parents to understand the following:
- Students have to learn how to pay attention and follow directions.
- They are easily distracted and think about something else when they should be listening to the teacher.
- They tune in, tune out, tune in and often hear only small pieces of what the instructor is saying or reading.
- Children sometimes assume they already know the directions and do not need to listen to the teacher.
- Young ones with ADHD can get stuck on one word or phrase causing them not to hear all the instructions.
- Sadly, there are times when students with ADHD think they are going to fail anyway, so they are confused as to why they should listen in the first place.
Improving the Ability to Follow Directions
There are ways to strengthen the ability of our students to understand and follow directions. If an assignment has more than one step the following suggestions will help:
- Provide a written list of instructions.
- Post the instructions on the school's website.
- Use a visual representation on the list of directions.
- Use color coding when writing the instructions.
- Demonstrate what is needed to be accomplished.
- Have students check back often to ensure they are on the right track.
- Have the student re-read the directions at least once during the timeframe of the project.