A parent recently shared with me that her high school son came home from school one day saying, “Mom, I need Adderall.” Adderall is a medication commonly used to manage Attention Deficit Disorder / ADHD.
It’s easy to blame attention for students’ struggles in school because that’s often what it looks like in class and certainly with homework where there are so many ways for kids to distract themselves.
But is attention the real culprit, or is the attention loss a symptom?
Have you ever had to carry on a conversation in a very noisy restaurant? Or had a bad cell phone connection? Have you tried to understand instructions given by someone with an accent very different from yours, making it hard for you to decipher?
Any of those situations make it harder to listen and understand. This means you have to work very hard to get the information and are probably putting a lot of energy into connecting the dots. At some point, the information becomes a bit hazy, and pretty soon, you’ve lost the thread of the conversation or lecture and your attention begins to drift. Do you have ADHD?
What you’re experiencing in these situations is a lot like what a person with an auditory processing problem experiences all day long. One of the symptoms is loss of attention. When we can’t understand, we begin to tune out.
Weak or inefficient underlying processing skills will affect attention, stamina, and performance.
We had a student once who saw the white spaces between the words much more prominently than the words when looking at the page.
An adult student once shared that punctuation marks and little words like the, of, and if floated around the page like gnats, making it extremely taxing to read.
Keeping up with the expectations and pace of the classroom requires a strong and automatic set of underlying processing/learning skills. Attention and energy should not need to be funneled off in order to sit still, look at the teacher, listen, make sense of what you’re seeing on the page, read, write, remember, or comprehend.
When underlying processing/learning skills such as memory, focus, auditory and visual processing, language comprehension, phonemic awareness, and sensorimotor integration are not automatic, attention will be stressed and academics will be affected.
Brain research in neuroplasticity and our 30 years of experience with thousands of children and adults with learning and attention challenges shows that these underlying skills can be developed to an automatic level. Learning and attention challenges can change – permanently.
Do you have a child, teen, or adult in your life who is struggling with learning or attention? Are you ready for a change? Here’s your next step.
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