Getting homework assignments done can be a huge struggle for kids with ADHD. It is important as homework problems are often a reason kids with ADHD fail in school. However, with some planning, you can help make homework less of a struggle for both you and your child. .… READ MORE
At Edge we talk a lot about how an ADHD coach can help you learn the skills you need to succeed in school. But what about after you get out of school? We like to say that coaching helps you hone your edge to climb higher in life. School is just the starting place for that journey. Working with an ADHD coach can be a highly effective method to help you bridge the journey from school to the workplace. When you work with an ADHD coach to help you be successful in school, you build skills that will help you be successful in life. … READ MORE
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) such as abuse, neglect and violence in the home can be a predictor for major health problems, difficulty in school, trouble building relationships, engaging in criminal behavior or being a victim of a crime. The ACE questionnaire is a straightforward, research-tested way to help determine the degree to which an individual might be at risk. .… READ MORE
Have you ever said, I might as well not try, I won’t be able to do it right anyway? Or how about, my work on this project really sucks, I’ll just hide it under my bed and forget about it. … READ MORE
What are traumatic events?
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network defines a traumatic event as “a sudden and unexpected occurrence that causes intense fear and may involve a threat of physical harm or actual physical harm. A traumatic experience may have a profound effect on the physical health, mental health, and development of a student.” These events are often referred to as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Traumatic events can arise from neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and psychological abuse.
The impact of trauma on learning
Recent neurobiological, epigenetic, and psychological studies have shown that traumatic experiences in childhood can have many long term effects.They can:
- Diminish concentration, memory, and the organizational and language abilities children need to succeed in school.
- Lead to problems with academic performance,
- Result in inappropriate behavior in the classroom, and difficulty forming relationships.
According to research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Kaiser-Permanente, these impacts can add up to poor academic performance, and later problems in life, including:
- Risky health behaviors,
- Chronic health conditions,
- Low life potential, and
- Early death.
Resilience can make the difference
According to a report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, entitled Adverse Childhood Experiences and the Lifelong Consequences of Trauma, past traumatic events do not necessarily dictate the future for the child. The report authors cite the ability of “protective factors” that can counter adverse childhood experiences and build resilience that allows a child to thrive. They state:
“Children survive and even thrive despite the trauma in their lives. For these children, adverse experiences are counterbalanced with protective factors. Adverse events and protective factors experienced together have the potential to foster resilience. Our knowledge about what constitutes resilience in children is evolving, but we know that several factors are positively related to such protection, including cognitive capacity, healthy attachment relationships (especially with parents and caregivers), the motivation and ability to learn and engage with the environment, the ability to regulate emotions and behavior, and supportive environmental systems,including education, cultural beliefs, and faith-based communities.”
Toward a practice of building resilience
Today, research is leading to a better understanding of the role that non-cognitive capabilities – e.g., grit, self-control, perseverance and delay of gratification play in a child’s ability to succeed in school. Paul Tough, bestselling author of How Children Succeed and Helping Children Succeed, outlines this research in a recent article in the Atlantic Monthly, “How Kids Learn Resilience.” These non-cognitive capabilities form the foundation of the executive functioning skills everyone needs to perform well both in school and at work. Executive function coaching, a proven method for helping students with learning challenges, succeeds because it builds both interpersonal relationship skills and non-cognitive capacity.
How is it possible that someone with ADHD can focus for hours on something that’s interesting? It’s a common misconception that people with Attention Deficit have a deficit of attention. It would be more accurate to say we have trouble paying attention appropriately. This intense concentration we sometimes experience is called hyper-focus. It’s the other extreme. Sometimes it’s as inappropriate as not being able to focus at all.
The ideal solution is to arrange your life so that the things you tend to hyper-focus on are things that bring you closer to your goals. For example, if you are an artist, it would be advantageous to get lost in a painting and oblivious to the world for six hours. But if you’re an accounting student and you have a final exam tomorrow morning, getting lost in that painting is probably not going to result in a good grade.
Here are seven strategies to help you manage ADHD hyper-focus:
- Identify the types of activities you tend to hyper-focus on.
- Don’t start any hyper-focus prone activities close to bedtime, or before doing something you’re likely to procrastinate on.
- Make it a point to be aware of your mental state at all times. We often don’t even realize it when we’re hyper-focused. Being aware of when you’re in it is the first step towards getting out of it.
- Practice being fully present. Use mindfulness exercises to stay in the here and now.
- Use timers and alarms to be cognizant of how much time has elapsed since you started the activity.
- Change your physical position to help break a hyper-focus as soon as you recognize it.
- Plan milestones in your projects. Stop every time you reach one.
Hyper-focus can be a wonderful gift if it’s used constructively, for things we truly want to focus on. It can be a curse if we hyper-focus on things that don’t matter at the expense of everything else. Controlling it is the tricky part.
Editor’s note: Do you hyperfocus? We’d love to hear what you are passionate about and what do you do to keep the rest of your life in balance.