Every semester brings the energy and excitement of students lining up to purchase textbooks and join extracurricular activities, while mixed with the quieter demands of cramming for tests and meeting endless deadlines. A stressful atmosphere for many students ,but for students diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) it can prove and even greater challenge.
Those diagnosed with ADHD already experience a plethora of tests that include reading, writing,math, scantrons (multiple choice standardized tests based on true or false and various puzzles) to determine whether their brain falls under a linear or nonlinear category. These tests aid in determining how severe their disorder is, whether it is categorized as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or ADHD. However, both forms are now referred to as ADHD. “While people don’t want to be thought of as hyperactive, our researchers have determined that ADHD is the correct way to refer to both ADD and ADHD diagnoses,” Joyce Kubik said, an ADHD certified master coach.
A nonlinear mindset produces multiple thoughts and tasks which aren’t reviewed in a particular order, much like having numerous tabs open on a desktop. Information collects and connects in an unspecific way. The challenge for these students is organization. Many with ADHD struggle trying to keep track of the multiple thought processes and become frustrated or anxious as a result.
ADHD is genetically driven. It is a selective gene. It is not acquired by any other means, except possibly as a result of brain trauma to the specific area of the brain where focus and working memory are controlled. Those with ADHD think and react quickly to their surroundings.
Kubik works with clients from the ages of nine to 99, providing a clear education on what it means to have and live with ADHD, as well as helping build strategies and structures around those areas in their lives that keep them from succeeding. “Not understanding how and why ADHD affects them in nearly every aspect of their lives leads them down a path, that makes ADHD the worst thing that has happened to them instead of the best,” she said. Kubik teaches skills specific to their learning style. Students learn how to read and write as a person with ADHD, to organize [papers] as a person with ADHD, and to control their natural tendencies to interrupt, be impatient and be impulsive.
Some creative tools that Kubik uses to educate and assist her ADHD students include a planning journal that is coupled with a book she authored, ‘Unravelling ADHD: How I Turned My Greatest Deficit into My Greatest Asset’. These tools help students to understand what it means to have ADHD as well as how it will affect them over a lifetime. LCCC’s Disability department and Student Development offer students an answer on how to become more responsible, reliable and successful, not just with words but through skills and structures designed to tap into strengths of ADHD.
As of 2011, approximately 11 percent of those aged 4-17 are diagnosed with ADHD in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control. Not enough students with ADHD seek help. In order to work with the Disability Department for ADHD, students need to have received a formal diagnosis, but are not required to be on medication.”I strongly recommend that anyone who is looking for ADHD coaching seek the help of a trained and certified ADHD coach, not a life coach,” suggested Kubik.
One advantage offered to students with ADHD is a class that can be taken either the summer before or during their first semester. The class SDEV PIIX is specifically designed for those students with attentional difficulties. This course teaches how to study and learn as a student with an ADHD thought process. However, this is not the same as organizational or success strategies courses developed distinctively for students who have never been offered the means to learn how to be organized leaders.
“We’re talking about going beyond that; it causes you to be distracted, miss appointments and fail to keep commitments which could eventually cause you to be anxious and depressed,” Kubik said. “To expect that a student can turn their behavior around with just the basic knowledge of how ADHD is manifested is wrong, and very disheartening to those with ADHD.”
Abbey Plute, a student of Kubik’s majoring in art, mentioned her biggest struggle is with distractions. “I don’t think having ADHD makes me less of a person or more of a person,” Plute said, “I’m not ashamed of having it. I’m ashamed of people who don’t know anything about it.”
Chris Lofgren is also Kubik’s student, majoring in video game simulation. His sister received help from Kubik which in turn, caused him to seek her help. “I was diagnosed in first grade,” Lofgren said, “There [are] kids that deny having it or they don’t care or never care, and I always feel bad for them because everyone has true potential. They just either need to man up and find it, or have a hand hold them the rest of their lives.”
Carolyn Coniam, majoring in creative writing, recalled when her parents informed her she had ADHD. “I started to cry, but now it’s a blessing in disguise,” Coniam said, “I am hoping to regulate myself more by taking this class. Some people might think there’s something wrong with those diagnosed, but that’s just not true. It’s just [that] our brains work differently.”
Kubik concedes that her strategies are not learned just because they are taught, but because her students have learned to discipline themselves on managing their behaviors. “These students work hard to function in a learning environment that is not tailored to their learning style. But with much perseverance, they do it.”