View Full Version : Kids with ADHD learn better by fidgeting


matsuiny2004
07-02-09, 07:09 AM
http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1887486,00.html

*KJ*
07-02-09, 01:42 PM
Which suggests a classroom technique for ADHD kids: Don't overly tax their working memory. Rapport, who used to be a school psychologist, says the average teacher doesn't understand how ADHD kids process information. "If you go into a typical classroom," he told me, "you might hear, 'Take out the book. Turn to page 23. Do items 1 through 8, but don't do 5.' And you've just given them four or five directions. The child with working-memory problems has dropped three of them, and so he's like, 'Page 23 what I am supposed to do?' " Similarly, a parent might tell a kid, "Take my keys, go to the car, get your sister's toy, and before you go, take the trash with you." The ADHD kid will get to the car without remembering what else to do. Their instructions must be broken down carefully because their working memory is weak.

When I asked Rapport whether there's a cure other than breaking down instructions, his answer was a bit depressing: no. ADHD is incurable.

I don't like this response!

There seems to me to be an obvious solution, perhaps too obvious, that is being missed. I'm afraid too, that there is the chance that the solution is considered but quickly dismissed because there is an assumption that ADHD kids are dumb.

Here's the answer...don't break it down! If too many small instructions are too much to remember...try just telling the child to do the math problems on page 23 - period.

I'm fairly certain that if the child can figure out the answers to the probelms that he/she can also figure out which book is the math book, that he needs to get the book out to do the problems, and that he also needs to open the book to page 23 to read them.

Is there a problem if more are actually completed? If it's more complex, like the even problems but skip #4 & #12, well that should just be written on the board!

And about the toy in the car...hand him the keys & the garbarge and say get the toy.

Am I missing something?!

Maurice
07-02-09, 02:15 PM
I don't like this response!

There seems to me to be an obvious solution, perhaps too obvious, that is being missed. I'm afraid too, that there is the chance that the solution is considered but quickly dismissed because there is an assumption that ADHD kids are dumb.

Here's the answer...don't break it down! If too many small instructions are too much to remember...try just telling the child to do the math problems on page 23 - period.

I'm fairly certain that if the child can figure out the answers to the probelms that he/she can also figure out which book is the math book, that he needs to get the book out to do the problems, and that he also needs to open the book to page 23 to read them.

Is there a problem if more are actually completed? If it's more complex, like the even problems but skip #4 & #12, well that should just be written on the board!

And about the toy in the car...hand him the keys & the garbarge and say get the toy.

Am I missing something?!


I don't think the guy understood your question.

*KJ*
07-02-09, 02:20 PM
Maurice are you being sarcastic?

APSJ
07-02-09, 06:40 PM
Its always good to see an article on ADHD in the news that doesn't question its existence.

Although its a small study, it is interesting that the kids only fidgeted when their working memory was taxed. I've noticed that I tend to fidget more when struggling to focus, but I've always felt it was because my unconscious was trying to get me to escape.

I found the last few paragraphs a little disappointing. I also found the discussion of breaking down instructions unclear. The problem is clear enough, but he didn't explain what he means by 'breaking down" the instructions. I'm guessing he means giving the student time to follow each instruction before giving the next one, but its not made entirely clear.

Then there is this:
Drugs like Ritalin are a common answer for controlling the condition, which affects about 3% to 5% of children, but Rapport notes that they have proven to be only a limited solution. In the short term, they can facilitate a child's ability to read undoubtedly a crucial benefit but Rapport says longitudinal studies have failed to show that Ritalin or other psychostimulants have consistent long-term behavioral effects. (Even if they did, another question would arise: Would you want to be dependent on a stimulant for the rest of your life?)As I understand it, studies are somewhat mixed, and limited, when it comes to long term use, but this guy's views, and the author's little aside suggesting that no one would want to take stimulants long term, don't seem to accurately represent the prevailing view on this matter. The article also implies that all that's at issue is behavior, when this is not the sole reason meds are prescribed.

Compare the quote above with this:
In the first empirical study of its kind, researchers Steven W. Evans, Ph.D., and colleagues William E. Pelham Jr., Ph.D., and Bradley H. Smith, Ph.D., found that methylphenidate (MPH) -- the drug best known by the trade name Ritalin -- in combination with a behavior modification intervention, improved adolescents diagnosed with ADHD performance on a range of academic measures, including note-taking, daily assignments and quiz scores, without causing major side effects.
"When they were taking stimulant medication, students were more likely not only to get schoolwork done, but to get it done more accurately than when they were taking a placebo," says Dr. Evans. "Scores improved by an average of about 17 percent--a jump that could mean two or three letter grades."
http://www.unisci.com/stories/20012/0601015.htm

*KJ*
07-02-09, 07:05 PM
This may be a strength that my son has, that may not be common with other ADHDers, but if I hand my son a problem, he can figure out the solution, whether it has 2, 10, or 25 steps. If I rattle off the steps, he will forget them or get lost in the middle.

"The garbage is full and your sister left her toy in the car."

"The math problems need to be completed on page 23."

"You need to get ready for school."

etc.

I must be on my own planet here...

APSJ
07-02-09, 07:14 PM
That's an interesting good point.(I didn't quite grasp your first post for some reason) If the steps are obvious, then saying them, making a child try and remember them, is unnecessarily complicating the instructions.

I think through practice I learned how to figure out instructions even if they weren't as obvious as "open the book", since I so often missed them. It wouldn't surprise me if this was fairly common for people with ADHD.

*KJ*
07-02-09, 07:22 PM
I'm getting the impression that most ADHDers are challenge hungry and pretty clever...and boredum is a BIG problem...soooooo

This is why I think the young lad over on the Adult Board has a point...it may not be a bulls-eye, but he's on target in my mind...you guys are good outside-the-boxers, from my vantage point anyway.

Fierwing
07-02-09, 08:56 PM
And about the toy in the car...hand him the keys & the garbarge and say get the toy.

Am I missing something?!

This may be a strength that my son has, that may not be common with other ADHDers, but if I hand my son a problem, he can figure out the solution, whether it has 2, 10, or 25 steps. If I rattle off the steps, he will forget them or get lost in the middle.

"The garbage is full and your sister left her toy in the car."

"The math problems need to be completed on page 23."

"You need to get ready for school."

etc.

I must be on my own planet here...

KJ

You are right, in the math problem in particular there is an obvious solution - to simply write out the problems that need to be done. It does seem that the instructions given in the example were unnecessarily convoluted. (On the other hand, many of us with ADHD have a difficult time starting on, and keeping motivation throughout, tasks which are not stimulating, and in that case the solution usually is to break it down into very small and manageable steps so that it is less overwhelming.)

I'm going to give an example (and this is really the way things went on a recent night) to try to illustrate the "what you're missing" in terms of following multiple instructions: I've just finished folding laundry in the living room which needs to go to my son's bathroom and my bedroom. There is a bath toy and my shoes laying in the living room also, so it makes sense to put everything away in two stops (one trip) through the house. Plus I need to get my cellphone from the bedroom anyway. I pick up the bath toy, and my partner asks me a question. So I stop to talk to him, and when finished, it takes me a moment to collect myself and remember what I was doing. My eye falls on the laundry basket - Right! Putting away laundry. I grab the basket and head for the bathroom. Get the towels put away in there, and move to the bedroom, where I realize that the bath toy is still in my hand. Run back to the bathroom. See son's shoes by the bathtub, which reminds me that I meant to pick mine up, go back to the living room. Partner asks another question before I grab them - and by the time we are done talking, have forgotten all about putting things away entirely. 20 minutes later, the dryer buzzes on the next load, remember clothes and cellphone in bedroom, and go back to take care of them. Spend a few minutes putting clothes away, and come back and sit down on the couch. Go to pull out my phone and realize that I never picked it up, run back to room. The shoes remain in the living room until tomorrow morning when I need to put them on. :)

These aren't instructions from someone else, they are things that I WANT TO HAVE DONE, and yet, this scenario isn't even remotely uncommon for me, or, as far as I can tell, a lot of ADHDers. The math homework was probably a poor example, there are probably many more examples in 'real life' of instructions that require multiple steps or consist of totally unrelated tasks which can't be expressed as one simply stated 'problem' to be solved. Your second example - taking out the trash and getting a toy from the car - is two separate tasks no matter how you break down the instructions. Eighty percent of the time, I might set out to do both at once and actually accomplish it, but most likely it will be because I kept repeating the two tasks over and over in my head until they were done. The rest of the time will involve having to go back a second time to finish the second task, especially if taking out the trash is something I do regularly. Adding a different step to an established routine almost never works for me on the first (or second or tenth) try. Whether or not I would remember to go back and finish the uncompleted task depends on how far my mind wandered, and if there are any obvious reminders. If I walk back inside and am still holding the trash bag, I would go finish. If I had taken the trash out, but forgotten the toy, I might not remember until my sister asked again, or someone else prompted me. If I set the trash down in the garage, to dig through the car for the toy, it may very well stay there until the next time someone goes out there.

Many people here do enjoy a challenge and are very creative thinkers - BUT - you are talking about situations and problems which interest us and engage our minds. For most people routine daily tasks do not fall anywhere near this category, so representing taking out the trash as a 'problem' to be solved seems to be missing the point a bit. It is very difficult for me, and many ADHDers, to keep our focus on tasks that are not stimulating long enough to remember and carry out multiple steps.

Speaking of a point, mine was this: In general, hand an ADHDer the keys and the trash together sure, probably they will come back with the keys and the toy and have left the trash in the appropriate place. But, if you are going to be frustrated at the times that they do have to go back to finish one or the other, or that the keys ended up forgotten by the trash can, or that they need a reminder of what exactly you asked for - then you really might be better off asking for one thing at a time.

Justtess
07-03-09, 10:37 AM
Some children, I've noticed, will stand while completing difficult tasks. They feel challenged by the assignment and do not care they are trying to accomplish this goal differently (by standing). I find traditional teachers do not allow for this and ask the child to sit like everyone else. There are even children who twirl their hair, a piece of string, tap their pencil, rock in their chairs while thinking. I don't know why some teachers won't allow students to fidget if they are getting the work done (except the chair rocking which could cause injury and the pencil tapping which disturbs others)

I like the notetaking and the graphic organizers as a strategy because it allows the person to zoom in or rearrange information.

On a personal observation, the students who were dx with ADHD tend to be more accurate with the answers and thus more reliable. Otherwise the question is unanswered. It's not uncommon for dx children to show where they got the answer and why afterwards. I find more NT students rush through and guess the answer (as a whole and not individual)<!-- / message -->

APSJ
07-04-09, 02:18 PM
Some children, I've noticed, will stand while completing difficult tasks. They feel challenged by the assignment and do not care they are trying to accomplish this goal differently (by standing). I find traditional teachers do not allow for this and ask the child to sit like everyone else. There are even children who twirl their hair, a piece of string, tap their pencil, rock in their chairs while thinking. I don't know why some teachers won't allow students to fidget if they are getting the work done (except the chair rocking which could cause injury and the pencil tapping which disturbs others)
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I did the chair rocking thing all the time, and still would if I had to sit in chairs of the type they had in school. It didn't matter how often I was told not to. Sitting conventionally in hard, inflexible chairs, is, in general beyond my capabilities.

I haven't read studies on this, but I know that this issue is recognized in special education. Go to a decent 'resource room' in a school and you'll find all kinds of giant cushions, swings, giant exercise balls, and other types of unconventional seating. In my apartment, we don't have any hard straight-backed chairs.(actually, we do, but we treat them as shelves, not places to sit.)

stef
07-04-09, 06:43 PM
I remember getting very confused over instructions in school; I think the "math" example above was good; if there were more than two steps I was like "what"? and then if it involved getting some object and everyone started moving their chairs or getting stuff from their desks I would completely lose track of all the instructions.