How does ADD affect learning?

Check out Lisa Ling‘s frank admissions of her struggles in the classroom.  Sound familiar?

Attention plays a major role in learning since all information coming into and out of a person’s brain is filtered by attention. That is, in order to acquire a new piece of information or a skill, we must first pay attention to it. In order to show that we have mastered the information or skill, we must control our impulses, monitor our behavior, filter distractions, and concentrate for a sustained period of time on the “tests” that occur in the classroom and in the real world.

Poor attention affects both incidental and “school” learning. A person who has a weakness in attention is less able to receive all of the input from the environment–structured or unstructured–that is necessary for learning. For example, he neither sees nor hears all the steps that Mom and Dad show and tell him about cleaning his room; he misses the fact that there are actually road signs that tell where to go; and he fails to get the coach’s instructions about game strategies during practice. At school, he doesn’t listen to the teacher’s instructions; he doesn’t see the assignment written on the blackboard; he doesn’t get the meaning of the stories he reads; and he doesn’t remember the steps in long division.

ADD can also interfere with a person’s ability to demonstrate what he has learned. People with ADD may have messy rooms, dirty dishes, and poor hygiene even though they know how to clean, to do the dishes, and to care for their bodies. In school, people with ADD may fail to complete all the problems or daily worksheets, add instead of subtract on achievement tests, make careless errors on intelligence tests, reverse letters when reading or writing, and forget to capitalize and punctuate in written language tasks.

Apparent difficulties in seeing, hearing, remembering, and understanding often lead to the false conclusion that individuals with ADD have auditory or visual perceptual problems or are just less intelligent. In reality, however, they are simply not alert and not reflecting, focusing, filtering, persisting, or monitoring their behavior and their schoolwork.  Brain power only goes so far.

ADD negatively affects learning. But, it never does so alone. A person’s temperament, intellectual, and learning abilities, and language skills, among other things, interact to influence how attention affects learning. It is important to remember that ADD, as a biologically based individual difference, can occur in anyone–an individual who is gifted, learning disabled, retarded, and one who has average learning ability.

Catch up on previous posts in the Pay Attention series.

Patients of all shapes, ages, and sizes come to The Being Well Center and Dr. Craig Liden for diagnoses and treatment plans they can trust. Can we help you too? Visit The Being Well Center for more information about Dr. Liden’s services.

Our current blog series is excerpted from Dr. Liden’s best-selling book, Pay Attention!: Answers to Common Questions About the Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.

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ADD and Extreme Temperaments

beingwellcenter_temperamentWhy is it that so many individuals with ADD seem to have extreme temperaments?

It may be that individuals with ADD come into the world with a greater number of these temperamental extremes.

However, it is also possible that these behaviors seem to be more common in individuals with ADD because their attentional differences interfere with their awareness of and ability to control these built-in personality characteristics.

That is, it may be that extremes in temperament such as high activity level, high intensity, low threshold, negative mood, slow adaptability, and short persistence occur just as frequently in the non-ADD populations as in the ADD population.

In order to exert control over these temperamental characteristics, an individual must be aware of his extremes, monitor his behavior, and develop effective ways to keep his extremes in check. As this requires efficient monitoring, problem-solving, vigilance, and impulse control, it is likely that individuals with ADD will struggle with their temperament more frequently and as a consequence, demonstrate these characteristics more often.

Catch up on previous posts in the Pay Attention series.

Patients of all shapes, ages, and sizes come to The Being Well Center and Dr. Craig Liden for diagnoses and treatment plans they can trust. Can we help you too? Visit The Being Well Center for more information about Dr. Liden’s services.

Our current blog series is excerpted from Dr. Liden’s best-selling book, Pay Attention!: Answers to Common Questions About the Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.

Jeff is a great kid! He just forgets.

Do you recognize these people?

bwc_lifespan

Annie, age 35

Annie is an attractive mother of three.  To look at her you would never guess what a disaster every area of her life has been since college.  As a young teacher, she never developed lesson plans and couldn’t control her classes.  She wanted to do something else but didn’t feel she had the skills.  Instead, she started a family.  As a homemaker, she rarely cooks a meal, struggles to pick up the house before her husband gets home from work, and has 45 half-done projects.  She manages the family finances–writes the checks, but forgets to mail them.  Her relationship with her husband is poor, and she feels guilty about not meeting her children’s needs.  She’s depressed, and her self-esteem is in the pits.

Adam, age 19

In high school, Adam was the class clown; everyone liked him.  Now, he goes to college because “that’s what everybody does!”  With the distractions of college life–being away from home for the first time, fraternity parties, weekend football games, and wild roommates–he is no longer able to get by on his quick mind and entertaining personality.  By the end of his first semester, he is on academic probation.  Despite this warning, threats by his parents, and all his good intentions, at the end of the second semester, Adam is asked not to return next fall.

Jeff, age 11

Jeff is a great kid!  He just forgets.  He forgets what his homework is.  He forgets to bring home the science book to study for tomorrow’s unit test.  He forgets to bring home his instrument for band practice.  He forgets to hang up his coat, to put his shoes away, and to throw his dirty clothes in the hamper.  He forgets to take out the garbage and to feed the dog.  He forgets to brush his teeth, to tuck his shirt in, and to make his bed.  If Mom wasn’t there to nag him, he’d probably forget everything–but still, he is a great kid.

Do you recognize Justin, Karen, or Lisa?
Do you recognize Melissa, Mark, or Betty?
Do you recognize Tina, Doug, or John?

These are my patients.  You may have recognized your son or daughter, your spouse, your parents, even yourself.  I’ve come to appreciate how ADD can look quite different across the lifespan, depending on circumstances, temperament, and expectations.  For some people, managing a home and family brings the conflict with ADD to a head.  For others, it’s the high expectations (and failures) at college.  Still others struggle in the smaller ways, like chronically forgetting homework.

Our current blog series is here to help you sort through the challenges of identifying and treating ADD / ADHD.  You might find there are a number of things you don’t know about ADD (but should).  You might find that you recognize my patients.  If you’re seeking answers, you’re always welcome at The Being Well Center, or you can download my free e-book, ADD Basics 101, in which I guide you through 10 clear steps to securing a diagnosis and treatment plan you can trust.

Patients of all shapes, ages, and sizes come to The Being Well Center and Dr. Craig Liden for diagnoses and treatment plans they can trust. Can we help you too? Visit The Being Well Center for more information about Dr. Liden’s services.

Our current blog series is excerpted from Dr. Liden’s best-selling book, Pay Attention!: Answers to Common Questions About the Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.

Do you recognize these people?

Pay Attention! | Dr. Craig Liden | ADHD girlMelissa, age 8

Missy is a perfect angel.  She quietly sits in the second to the last seat of the fourth row of her third grade class.  The rowdy, disruptive kids sit in the front.  Missy never causes any trouble; she is shy, polite, and…flunking.

Mark, age 10

Mark qualified for the gifted classes at school when he was in second grade.  Even though he is creative, quick, and highly verbal, he rarely gets As on his report card.  His parents and teachers are frustrated that such a bright kid is so sloppy, careless, and irresponsible.  At times they wonder if he’s just bored with it all.

Pay Attention! | Dr. Craig Liden | ADHD womanBetty, age 46

Betty’s daughter was diagnosed with ADD when she was nine years old.  As Betty learned more about her daughter’s problem, she began to wonder if ADD could be the reason for her own long history of difficulties.  In school, Betty’s grades had consistently been pretty good, but she worked so much harder than everyone else.  Now, as an accountant, she is in high demand because the quality of her work.  Her clients have no idea she has to stay up until the wee hours of the morning double and triple checking her calculations.  The daily stress has left her with little energy for her family or household responsibilities.  Over the years, she has grown to feel inadequate and guilty.  She has tried to ease the pain within herself by doing for everyone else–her husband, her children, her parents, her aunt, the school, the church.  Now she has run out of gas.  She’s depressed.  She’s overweight.  Her joints ache.  She has just been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Do you recognize Justin, Karen, or Lisa?

These are my patients.

You may have recognized your son or daughter, niece or nephew, grandson or granddaughter. Maybe one of them is a child in your childcare center, a student you teach, or just a kid in your neighborhood. It could be that one of them is your brother, your sister, your mom or dad, or your husband or wife.

It’s quite possible that one of them is you!

The ages, sex, personalities and life circumstances are different but they have one thing in common—they all have Attention Deficit Disorder.

Millions of Americans suspect they may have ADD. Is it time for you to finally get answers?  As I tell my patients when they first come to terms with a diagnosis, it’s exciting to think where things could go!

Patients of all shapes, ages, and sizes come to The Being Well Center and Dr. Craig Liden for diagnoses and treatment plans they can trust. Can we help you too? Visit The Being Well Center for more information about Dr. Liden’s services.

Our current blog series is excerpted from Dr. Liden’s best-selling book, Pay Attention!: Answers to Common Questions About the Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.