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What are Some Helpful Study Tips for Students With ADHD?

Study and Assignment Tips for Students With ADD/ADHD

One of the most common and frustrating problems facing students who have ADHD is the feeling of being overwhelmed at the prospect of having to do homework or study for a test. The prospect of reading a book can provoke anxiety in a student who has ADHD. While all of these feelings are very real, and clearly unpleasant, the reality is that with a little bit of careful planning and a good strategy for proper time management, students who have ADHD can do just as well as other students in any academic subject. By practicing good study skills, they often do far better than students who don't have to think about how they manage their time in order to complete required school work.

Use a Day Planner

A Day Planner, assignment notebook or any type of pocket calendar or book-size calendar is a great way for a student who has ADHD to keep track of when their assignments are do. As soon as a teacher gives an assignment, write down what that assignment is, and when it is due. When you get home, you may want to make a note of it for each day leading up to the due date. That way, you can't forget what you have to do.

Make a Daily To-Do List

Time management is constantly an issue for students who have ADHD. When it comes to your school work, make a daily to-do list. If you use one notebook for all of your classes, the smart thing to do is to keep that to-do list at the front of the notebook. Write down all homework assignments, reading, studying for tests, memorizing or other stuff you need to do. If you have long term projects such as research papers, make a point of including that work in your to-do list. Don't wait until a couple of days before the assignment is due to look for resources, only to discover that they've been checked out of the library. Start looking for the material you need to do your project as soon after you get the assignment as possible.

Schedule Study Breaks

People who have ADHD almost always find it impossible to work productively if they have to focus on something for long periods of time. Figure out how long you can work productively and then schedule breaks. This doesn't mean that if you study for an hour, you can take a break of several hours. After studying for an hour, take a ten or fifteen minute break. Use that break time to get up, walk around, get some fresh air or a drink of water.

Break Up Tedious Assignments Into Smaller Pieces

This is especially helpful when it comes to reading assignments. Most students who have ADHD cannot focus well enough for long enough to read large assignments at one time. When it comes to reading entire books, regardless of whether or not they are interesting or pleasurable to read, the same thing is true. A smart strategy is to divide the amount of reading you have to do into the number of days you have to do it.

If you have to read 250 pages of very technical stuff in a week, that means that you'd have to read no less than about 36 pages a day. Reading 36 pages a day is a lot easier than trying to read, digest and understand 250 pages in a day or two. If the prospect of reading those 36 pages at one time seems overwhelming, break it up into two sittings in a day.

Your study environment is also very important. Make sure that you have a place that's neat, well-organized and free of any potential sources of distraction. If you study in your bedroom or dorm room, you may have to get into the habit of tidying up on a regular basis. It is far easier to study productively in a neat and well organized environment. If you are like many people who have ADHD or ADD and find it hard to block out sound and activity around you, then be sure you have the necessary quiet. If necessary, consider using ear plugs or noise canceling headphones.

Every person who suffers from ADHD has to figure out what strategies are most effective at helping them be more productive. It takes time to figure these things out and to learn to adapt to doing things differently. Change is always difficult -- especially for people with ADHD because they get used to routines. Over time, better grades and positive feedback, coupled with less anxiety and frustration will make all of this work worth the while.

How can I use cues to help me stay on track?

How to Use Visual Cues and Sound Alerts to Stay on Track

For some adults with ADHD, visual or auditory cues are an effective way to stay on schedule throughout the day and remember important to-do items. For example, if you tend to become hyperfocused on a project and want to avoid missing a meeting, you can use a computer- or phone-based timer application that will alert you when a specific amount of time has passed. These timers can often be programmed to create an alert noise or to come to the top of your computer screen at the designated time. If you need a stronger nudge, you might consider using a kitchen timer with a loud ringer or a digital watch that beeps until you turn it off. Another way to incorporate visual cues into your daily routine is by color-coding. If you use a planner to keep track of your schedule, you could designate a specific color for each category in order to take in information at a glance. For example, using bright pink for appointments could help to distinguish those commitments from other types of work.

What kinds of ADHD medication are there?

Different Types of ADHD Medication

Three general classes of FDA-approved medication exist for treating ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactive disorder) subtypes. These include stimulants, norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (NRIs) and the suspected alpha-2 adrenergic agonist clonidine.

Stimulants such as Adderall (mixed amphetamine salts) and Dextrostat (amphetamine sulfate) are used to increase concentration. These drugs work by increasing release of norepinephrine, a catecholamine vital to concentration. Desoxyn (methamphetamine) is used rarely, and affects dopamine (reward) receptor more than amphetamine. Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a stimulant similar to the aforementioned drugs, and blocks both reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine and enhances their release.

Straterra (atomoxetine) is a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. It has no addictive potential and is offered as non-controlled alternative for ADHD. Clonidine is a recent addition to the ADHD arsenal, and works by blocking the potentially stimulating norepinephrine. Due to possible sedation, it is often taken in the evening.

The most effective medication should be discovered through guided therapy, or trial and error. Certain subtypes of ADHD may respond better to stimulants (inattentive) and others to clonidine (impulsive and oppositional behavior).

Are Generic Equivalents just as Effective for ADHD?

Avoid Using Generic Drugs for ADD/ADHD

When it comes to medication for ADD/ADHD, as with so many other conditions, there is a huge range of available drugs. They come in different doses and forms. A drug may come in an extended release formula, a long acting formula, slow release formula and other variations.

Once a drug company loses the patent for a particular drug, then different companies are allowed to manufacture that drug in a generic form. This is what happens with many drugs for ADHD symptoms, and there is a huge difference between brand name drugs and their generic equivalents.

Consistent Blood Levels

One commonality among all drugs which ADD/ADHD diagnosed people discover is that the key to the drug's success lies in finding that exact dose that works for them. Once a doctor finds that right dose, the next obstacle is figuring out how to keep blood levels consistent.

Generic Inconsistencies

When it comes to generic drugs, your pharmacy is stuck with whatever is available, and lately, there has been a shortage of many ADD/ADHD drugs. That means that, at any given time, the pharmacist may have generic equivalents of one drug from several different manufacturers.

It also means that when you go to get a new prescription every month, you may wind up getting a generic drug from a different manufacturer. Since stimulant ADHD drugs are schedule II drugs, you have to take a paper prescription to the pharmacy each time you need a refill.

The variation in formula between generic and brand name equivalents isn't supposed to vary more than about 15 percent. Since the consistency of the dose is so crucial for people with ADHD, that variation can make a huge difference, especially when you're taking a drug more than once a day.

If you start to feel as though your ADHD medication isn't working as effectively as it should, and you've been taking a generic equivalent, consider talking to your doctor and requesting that he/she indicates that the brand name drug is medically necessary next time you go to get a prescription.

Instead of increasing the dose of a generic equivalent, the solution may be as simple as going back to the brand name drug. If you have prescription coverage, the company will have to pay for the brand name, as long as your doctor specifically orders it. Although the co-payment will undoubtedly be slightly higher, it will be well worth the expense.


The Gift of Unconditional Love

Some parents seem to have children that appear to be too good to be true. They get top grades, they tend to excel at whatever activity they are drawn to. They rarely get into trouble. In other words, they seem to be practically perfect in every way. Of course this is not true, but it can feel that way sometimes.

The parents of the "practically perfect" children may never get to experience the daily trials of unconditional love because they are not tested. When children with challenging behaviors test you to the limit, it conveys among other things, the idea that they believe that they can trust your love, and that your love is reliable.

Children grow up. When they are small they step on our toes. In the case of Attention Deficit children they may accidentally step on your toes when they are grown. This child shows you daily exactly how strong and resolute you are in steadily parenting them as they go. This child has remarkable gifts of spirit. Express your appreciation for all they do well, and get right, and tell them every day how much you love them.


The Gift of the Sensitive Child

This child brings the idea of how to work with exquisitely fine-tuned feelings to the table and he or she elevates it to an art form. The heart-on-the-sleeves type have much to teach us in a time when the culture has grown coarser and more vulgar.

These sensitive children can detect the most subtle shifts in the environment. Food and drink preferences may emerge at an early age and persist throughout life. Sounds, noises, and crying can disturb them profoundly. Clothing labels must be removed because of skin sensitivities. These children's sense of smell is heightened and they often report "odors" not especially noticeable to you. Grief, sadness, hurt feelings and the like do not escape their notice.

If you are dealing with a sensitive child, be responsive to the changes they need in the environment. What may seem like a normal noise level to you is a brass band to them. Talk with your child about how they are experiencing the world. It may open your eyes to a whole new way of seeing the world.

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Patricia Walters-Fischer