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The AD/HD Whisperer

I have a gift for working with students with AD/HD. I don't say this to boast, but as an expression of humility for the journey that has led me here. I understand my students, I connect with them, and sometimes, though certainly not always, I am able to inspire their learning in a meaningful way. I say this with the same sort of false pride as one who won the lottery - it was only by luck, probability, and circumstance that I walk this path.

Unlike other "whisperers" though, I can truly relate, because I am just like them. Growing up I didn't realize I had attention difficulties. In the 1980's only the kids who climbed on desks were diagnosed. It was only by reflecting my students' mirrors upon myself that I began to understand how my attention deficits affect my life.

Many of you reading this probably know someone with AD/HD, and you may know quite a bit about it. One thing that's important to understand about attention deficits is that they can manifest in three different ways. Some people deal with hyperactivity and impulsivity, others manage inattentiveness, and the majority have a combination of the two. In schools, typically only those with hyperactivity/impulsivity are identified.

Those with inattentiveness, like myself, are often overlooked. We don't act up in class and often our silence and compliance is mistaken for engagement. It's hard to see how this could be problematic or how it could even be labeled as AD/HD.

I am coming to understand that I am in an amazing position to be a voice for my students and for others who are just now learning to manage their attention difficulties. AD/HD tends to peak during adolescence, leaving children and their families confused and looking for answers. Teenagers in general struggle with communicating, without the difficult of understanding how their AD/HD impacts them.

So that you may begin to understand their journey, I invite you into mine:

- Sometimes my legs get filled with so much energy that they become painful.

- I text my husband when in the same room. Thankfully he understands.

- Even when I really want to pay attention to some things, I can't.

- My brain wakes up at 10 pm and doesn't turn off until 2 am. It has been this way since I was a child. I often hide this from others by not leaving a digital stamp after 11.

- I have a one-track mind, and it's very difficult to get me off that track.

- Sometimes my AD/HD conflicts with my values.

- Starting new projects brings me far more satisfaction than completing one.

- I can't understand you when you talk to me. I wish I could, but I can't. I need it written down.

- Sitting through something boring (to me) is actually physically painful.

- I am an avid reader, but I can't read things that don't interest me.

- Technology allows me to be exceptionally organized. Without it, I would be a mess.

- I hate to complete small, trivial tasks. 

- I work best under a deadline.

- I don't want any accommodations. I want to be held to the same expectations as everyone else.

- I am educated to know better, but it still embarrasses me. 


Motivation The most important part of any math intervention is finding a way to motivate students so they want to try.

15 Practical Tips for Dealing with "Difficult" Students Praise often. All the time. With over-the top, ridiculous compliments. Your student completed half an assignment after several 0's? Compliment them!

Breaking the Child Teachers and parents constantly lament over some child's willfulness. Certainly teachers need to be in charge of the classroom, but I wonder: How far would you go to gain control of a child?

From Fractions to Felonies (Part 1) Juvenile detention may seem like an odd topic for a math blog, but from my perspective, there is a direct correlation. To illustrate this, let's trace the path for a typical juvenile offender backwards.

Using "The Hunger Games to Manage Behavior" Walk into a Kindergarten class, and you will believe in magic. How one lady manages to get 20 5-year-olds to snake quietly through the halls with only her smile and a charming, "Follow me, boys and girls", is an amazing thing to see.