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Really??My ADD student can’t learn?

July 24, 2011
By CATHY BROWNFIELD - Family Recovery Center , Salem News

"How was school today?" Mom asks Junior when he comes in the door.

"It was OK," he answers, only because he can't ignore his mother. She will ask again.

"Do you have homework?" she asks.

"No, I did it at school," he answers. Or, "The teacher didn't assign any." He dumps his backpack on the counter and gets in the fridge looking for a snack and something the drink.

"Take your stuff to your room," Mom says.

"OK." He starts toward his room without it.

"Hey! Take your backpack to your room!"

"Sorry. I forgot." He comes back and grabs the pack, takes it to his room and drops it near the door where he forgets it until the next morning when he's leaving for school.

Junior's progress report-and several weeks later his report card-record academic failure. Again. He is in danger of failing the entire year in all of the core classes: language arts, math, science and history. Mom is angry at the school system that is failing her child and looking for the right avenues that she can take to turn his failures into successes.

Last week we talked about the learning disabilities and issues of teens with ADD (attention deficit disorder, reading comprehension, math computation, printing instead of cursive writing because of poor fine motor skills, and lack of organization skills, to name a few. They are easily distracted, unable to finish what they start and forgetfulunderachievers. It's not that they can't learn. It's that they have special needs that need to be the focus of the student's support system: teachers and others at the school who help students achieve academic success, health care professionals who see to the student's good health and well-being, family members who support, encourage-even tutor them or provide other educational opportunities and parents who are advocates for their child's needs, getting a tutor for their child if they are unable to do it themselves.

Every child can't learn the same way. Some need hands-on experiences so they can SEE how things work. Teachers, by law, must make adaptations to the classroom to accommodate the students with special needs, of which one is ADD. Parents, caring about the interests of their child, also can make changes designed to meet their child's special needs. Here are a few suggestions:

1.) If your child can't focus to complete homework, taking medication prescribed by the doctor may be necessary.

2.) Set a specific time for homework every night and use a timer to announce the start time.

3.) Minimize distractions.

4.) Would a study partner help? You can try it and see.

5.) Does your school district have a place on its website the provides homework information for parents? Use it so you know, too, what your child's homework responsibilities are.

6.) Instead of focusing on ALL the homework at once, break it down into do-able parts. Have your student bring each part to you as it's completed.

7.) Let your child use the computer to complete assignments. They have difficulty writing and writing legibly. The teacher might encourage the student to email homework as soon as it's completed, lessening the likelihood of homework being lost before it can be turned in.

8.) Use white noise (ocean sounds, etc.) or radio to help the student stay focused.

9.) Use daily or weekly reports between parents and teachers so everyone is on the same page and knows whether or not the student's expectations are being met.

10.) Length of time for homework should not take "all evening til bedtime." Address that issue when it happens at your house.

Education is important. Students with ADD are at higher risk of dropping out of school, substance abuse, pregnancy, speeding tickets, car wrecks and suicide. If your child's teacher has said or ever days say (s)he gives up on your "impossible-to-teach" child, that's just not so. Teens with ADD are average to above average intelligence. They can learn if their support system comes together to work for him. And he needs to be a part of the team with some choices.

The book Teenagers with ADD: A Parents Guide by Chris A. Zeigler-Dendy is dated but still available. Zeigler is mother of a child with ADD. She also is a mental health professional. This book and others published more recently, can help you to understand how to meet the needs of your ADD teen and bring peace to your household and academic success to your ADD child. Goals won't be met overnight, but it will be worth the time and effort you spend to see the self-esteem of your student rise with each new success, one step at a time. Parents must be actively involved and consistent.

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities and offers The Edge program for teens. It is a group experience specifically designed for youth ages 13-17. Topics covered are stress management, coping skills, peer pressure, healthy relationships, escaping from unpleasant emotions and gaining confidence. For more information, contact Family Recovery Center at 961 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or FRC is funded, in part, by the United Way of Northern Columbiana County.



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