Piper Opinion: Teachers should connect with students with ADD
October 28, 2018 By:MHS Piper
By Lauren Murphy
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) affects millions of children in the United States alone. The way that public education is structured, students who struggle with these disorders have a harder time and are at a serious disadvantage.
Nicolette Parra, a junior at McNary, has dealt with ADD and ADHD since the third grade. “I’ve been struggling with how to deal with it as I’ve gotten older,” Parra said. “At first when I was younger my mom and teachers thought I was just a hyper kid who wouldn’t listen but as I’ve gotten older they’ve noticed that it’s more of a problem that I’ll most likely have to deal with forever.”
“ADD and ADHD completely impacts my learning. Since learning (in schools) completely relies on focusing I am sometimes totally unable to focus and actually learn,” Parra said. “No matter how hard I try and it’s something I have no control over.”
An issue with the block schedule that McNary switched to in the 2015-16 school year is that the 90 minute classes are almost too much for students with ADD or ADHD to deal with. “The time spent in class has a big impact on my level of focus as a student. To me longer class periods mean 90 minutes of sitting in my seat trying to sit still and focus for that long which can seem nearly impossible.” Parra said. “However 45 minute classes mean that I can actually focus on something without getting antsy or distracted.”
I, myself struggle with ADD and find it hard to focus in classes. People who have ADD and ADHD have a brain that goes from one task or idea to the next very quickly; however, when they find something that interest them they can hyperfocus on that particular subject.
Students with and without the disease tend to not find certain core classes interesting, whether it’s science, math, or english, everyone has a subject they don’t care for. The difference being people who struggle with ADD and ADHD tend to move on from that subject, especially if they deem it unimportant.
Asking a teenager who has no interest or desire to be in a class to sit still for 90 minutes is outrageous. Students like myself will often fall asleep, daydream, or doodle in class. This can be viewed as disruptive when in reality it’s the best we can do.
While some may say that there’s nothing to be done and affected students will just have to live with this for the rest of their lives and just figure it out I disagree. If teachers allowed for a two minute stretch break or some sort of physical activity during class it could help refocus students.
“I mainly wish that my teachers knew to make lessons easier to focus on. For example, instead of lecturing us for an hour maybe do little chunks and give us work in between,” Parra said, “Along with letting me fiddle or do something that can make my mind focus.”
Many teachers view having a notebook or non class related material on the desks as an issue. I keep a notebook on my desk and write down the things I remember I have to do in class (homework from other classes, taking out the trash when I get home, plans that I made with a friend, etc.) but I also use it to write stories or poems or sketch.
There is a lot of time in some of my classes where I’ve finished my work and am waiting to move to the next activity. By keeping all parts of my brain engaged throughout the period I am able to focus better and don’t fall asleep.
Teachers don’t understand how to deal with students who have ADD and ADHD, and sending students to room 157 is not the answer. Connecting with individual students and asking what helps them learn and focus best is the only way to help struggling students in our school system.