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ADHD and Homework Part ONE

October 21st, 2008

ADHD and Learning Disabilities or Dyslexia

About 30% of the kids with ADHD also have dyslexia, learning difficulties or learning disabilities. School age kids may have problems with reading, spelling, writing, penmanship, or arithmetic. The question then becomes one of, how do I help my ADD/HD kids with their homework?

An eighth grade student of mine spent an inordinate amount of time on a project, making a beautiful poster for a social studies assignment. I recall talking with her mom about it and how proud she was of her work. She figured she’d get an “A” on it. Unfortunately this student got an “F” on the assignment because she didn’t do what she was supposed to. She had misunderstood the directions and expectations.

There are several things going on here. This student’s ADD/ADHD was interfering with two areas. First it interfered with the understanding of the project. Second it interfered with her being able to write down the assignment correctly. When a student thinks they know what they are supposed to do because they don’t realize they have missed bits and pieces of assignments or key concepts, it can be devastating to them and their self-esteem when they end up doing poorly.

I’ve found the most helpful thing to do is to try and figure out what specifically is the underlying cause of the problem. For instance, difficulty doing their homework can be caused by several factors.

1. The first factor is that the kids didn’t write down the assignment because they were attending to other matters when the assignment was given.

2. The second factor may be that your kids didn’t write down the whole assignment, they just wrote down part of it.

3. The third factor may be that your kids did write down the assignment but they don’t understand how to do it because they missed out on some of the instruction of concepts they needed in order to do the assignment successfully.

Remember a common symptom of ADHD includes: often fails to follow instructions carefully and completely and often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes.

One quick work around for this is to have several phone numbers of classmates that your child can call to double check what the assignment is.

Many middle schools now post the homework assignment on the schools website. Arrangements can be made with your child’s teacher so you receive a copy of the assignments.

Bonnie Terry, M. Ed., BCET

Board Certified Educational Therapist

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