Your Study Guides and Strategies starts here!

Our patience will achieve  more than force
Edmund Burke, 1729 - 97
English statesman/author

Learning to learn series

Studying with ADHD

Hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder

You are not alone if you have
attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

About 4% of school age children are also affected.
In addition, other students have one or a few of the characteristics of ADHD.

These strategies are suggested as part of a professionally organized program of assistance. They are derived from the American description of ADHD1. However, as a student, you also have your own personal learning style, including "intelligences" (c.f. Kolb), personality types (c.f. Myers-Briggs), etc. These will be helpful to know and develop in overcoming ADHD

In class:

To help you follow instructions:

  • Simplify instructions down to a basic one or two, and build from there. Verify these with your teacher, or
  • Ask your teacher to break down assignments into steps for you to follow

Answering out of turn, or interrupting the class or teachers is normal for ADHD, but it is best to remember that you are trying to learn

  • Write your question or comment down on paper before speaking
  • Practice raising your hand before volunteering
  • Refer to our Guide on Classroom Learning

To take good notes is task for all students. These techniques may give you an advantage:

  • Bring a tape recorder to class
  • Study with a classmate taking the same class
  • Refer to our Guide on Taking Notes in Lectures
  • With ADHD, lecture is not the best form of learning. Ask your teacher for a printed summary of the lecture, or alternative methods to get the same information

Homework:

To help you concentrate:

  • Find a quiet place in your home, to avoid distraction such as movement and noise of your family, pets, TV, telephones, music, etc.
  • If space in your home is limited, your parents or tutor may find space in a library, religious center, neighbor's house, or other sympathetic place
  • Special "headsets" can block out noise and help you focus
  • get into a routine, a consistent time you study
  • Refer to our Guide on Concentration

To help you remember:

  • Develop routines/habits!
    For example, before going to school, organize your schoolwork in the same way each day. Have some one help you begin to establish this pattern
  • Keep your assignments in the same pocket of your backpack. Tell your teacher about it
  • Keep a list of things to remember in a pocket of your backpack.

To help with details

  • Review your homework
    with your parents, a classmate, a tutor
  • use grammar and spell checkers regularly for computer work

Remember that making mistakes, or overlooking details, is not for lack of intelligence, but rather a characteristic of this condition.

Help with learning

Take care of yourself; get the help you need:

Patience is a challenge for those with ADHD.
If you are feeling angry, discouraged, or frustrated over your progress, find some support. Our learning involves family, teachers, professionals, as well as ourselves. We all need patience. Their messages should be steady and consistent, but try to understand if they aren't always so.

According to the American Surgeon General "Inattention or attention deficit may not become apparent until the child enters the challenging environment of elementary school. Such children then have difficulty paying attention to details and are easily distracted by other events that are occurring at the same time; they find it difficult and unpleasant to finish their schoolwork; they put off anything that requires a sustained mental effort; they are prone to make careless mistakes, and are disorganized, losing their school books and assignments; they appear not to listen when spoken to and often fail to follow through on tasks.
See also:

Learning to learn | Succeeding in continuing education | Visual/spatial learning |
Learning as a student-athlete | Learning as an adult | Learning with ADHD |
Active learning | Action learning | Language learning strategies
"Learning folder"

Edits and revision with appreciation to Julia Nielson, Counsellor, Athabasca University, Alberta, Canada.
Learning to learn series

Learning to learn | Succeeding in continuing education | Visual/spatial learning |
Learning as a student-athlete | Learning as an adult | Learning with ADHD |
Active learning | Action learning | Language learning strategies |
Exploring your personal learning style | Learning folder