What does all of this "look like"?
- Resists starting homework
- Doesn't finish homework
- Argues about homework
- Doesn't know what the homework assignment is
- Doesn't have the materials to finish homework
- Does the homework and leaves it on the kitchen counter
- Could do the problems yesterday, but has no clue today
- Works slowly
- Needs you to sit next to him to get the work done
- She stares into space as soon as you walk away
- Doesn't know "what to do next"
- Reads, but doesn't remember or understand
- Reads and re-reads and re-re-reads
- Has terrible handwriting...lots of erasures and "write overs"
- Doesn't remember basic math facts; counts on fingers; uses touch counting; still making "hash" marks
- Doesn't remember the processes for math such as regrouping when there's a zero in the middle of a number or the sequence for long division
- Doesn't remember the abbreviations, signs or formulas for math
- Can tell you what she knows, but can't write it down
- Organization? What organization?
- Needs a lot of breaks
- Seems smarter than grades show
Think about what it takes to write even one sentence...here's the list.
- You have to know what you want to say.
- You have to know how to spell.
- You have to know which words to put in the right order.
- You have to form the letters correctly (shape and size), in the correct order and stay on the line and plan ahead so you can write everything on the line you've been given.
- You have to read it to make sure it makes sense.
Let's look at the real life book report assignment.
But FIRST: You must look at the calendar, see when the report is due and work backwards, giving yourself a GREAT deal of time to read the book and write the report. You must use "task analysis". You must break down the task (how many chapters can I read a day and do all of my other work) and on which days will I read and which days will I devote to writing the book report? You must start the work and refine the schedule as you move along to avoid the FEAR FACTOR of doing everything at the last minute!
- You must read the book and understand it. If you have ADHD, you're likely to read slowly, have to read the book multiple times, watch the movie that was made from the book and you have to remember it long enough to put the information on paper. (If you're really clever, you would have taken notes as you went along! But, anticipating your immediate future needs isn't one of your strengths.)
- You must be able to read and understand the questions that the teacher is asking on the book report form. She wants complete sentences.
- You must determine what you want to say, break it into logical parts and write it down using the words you know how to spell.
- You write the sentences legibly, but don't take the time to re-read the question and the answer to make sure they "match". (That's boring! I'm done; moving on now. I don't do that whole "self-monitoring/task-monitoring thing.)
- Put it in your backpack in such a way that you know EXACTLY where it is when it comes time to hand it in tomorrow.
You quickly train your classmates to avoid you and think poorly of you. You have difficulty getting along with them and your teacher. You become preoccupied with social worries and frustrations and become anxious. Then, the bad-behavior cycle starts. You start to feel sick before you go to school and now, you're refusing to go at all. Your parents are mad at you.
Or, because of your behavior, you're put in lower-level groups and become bored and then, you misbehave. Two different paths, same destination.
Ask the school for an assessment but pay attention to the limitations of a school district assessment. They're all about determining eligibility instead of making diagnosis. They are very cursory evaluations. But you have to start somewhere.
There's a great deal of stress involved in having ADHD and it quickly spreads to the rest of the family. Do the best you can and when you get stuck, reach out for support.
Join my on Facebook at Dr. Claudia McCulloch