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Teacher with ADD College student – Help!

Teacher with ADD College student – Help!2013-11-25T20:59:23+00:00

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  • #123033

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    I teach a pre-college class for adults who dropped out of high school, or who have a history of interrupted education, or teen moms, or other adults who’ve had educational difficulties.  I have a lot of students with learning disabilities and who need a lot of help, I’ve had dozens of ADD students before (my husband has ADD, too), and I’ve been doing this for a few years, so I thought I knew what to do to help anyone in my class… but now I have this student in his early twenties who has ADD and I don’t know what to do.

    He’s a good guy – he’s friendly and kind and smart.  But he’s only managed to complete one little assignment in the last two months.  He can’t focus in class, or at home on his homework.  I have no idea if he’s medicated, though I seriously doubt it.  He’s constantly interrupting me and his classmates, making it harder for them to concentrate, too (most of them have LDs of their own that make class hard enough for them without more distractions).  He interrupts class discussions as well as other people’s private conversations.

    I’m frustrated, and the other adults in the class are getting really angry at him.   There’s a lot of info out there for teachers of CHILDREN who have ADD, but I teach ADULTS – could someone please give me some hints about what to do to help this young man?  I need to know what to do to help him stay focused in class and on his work, and to stop interrupting everyone else.  I need to know some strategies to help him in my class, and that he can use when he gets into college.  Any links or advice would be very much appreciated!


    Post count: 906

    Hi @profph, you came to the right place. 🙂

    Sounds like your student has pretty severe ADHD. And I agree he probably isn’t medicated. Or at least not on the right meds.

    He is an adult and therefore should be taking responsibility for his own actions.  So for the problem with disruptions in class I would suggest talking to him directly and telling him that his behaviour is causing difficulties for the other students. Remind him that they have their own difficulties to deal with and that he is making it harder for them. That may be enough to quiet him down a little, though the others will also have to understand that he can’t really control it.

    As for getting assignments done…..I never did so I don’t know how. But I saw something somewhere today about a new strategy being used for children with ADHD where the teacher gives them daily report cards to help keep them on track. I thought it sounded like a great idea because it is hard for people with ADHD to focus on the future.

    So my suggestion for your student would be to break his assignments down, if you can, and give him shorter deadlines. Make it so something is due every two days or even every day. The only time I ever sat down and finished an essay was the night before it was due.

    That’s all I’ve got but there are lots of others here who are more experienced and will be able to give you much better advice. 🙂


    Patte Rosebank
    Post count: 1517

    Good question, @Profph!

    The short answer is: “Customize”.

    Remember, the ADHD brain is driven by interest not importance, so each ADDer will need a personal set of strategies that play to his/her own personal interests. You and your student will have to work *together* to figure out what works best for him.

    An ADHD Coach can really help with this.

    There are some listed in the Coach Directory (http://totallyadd.com/coaching-directory-search/), and most offer coaching by Skype, wherever you are. If price is an issue, there are Student Coaches-in-Training, who may offer discounted or pro-bono sessions.

    You may also find it helpful to contact the Student Services departments of colleges. They’ll have experience with ADHD in adult students, and can offer some suggestions on how to approach this. Just remember, you’ll still need to “customize” these suggestions, in partnership with your student.


    If your student can’t complete assignments or be “mentally present” in class, it sounds like maybe these things aren’t interesting enough *to him* to engage & activate his brain.

    If that’s the case, then his impulsive talking might be his way of trying to activate his brain (even though he may not be aware that this is what he’s doing).

    Or, he might be a verbal processor, who has to talk his way through something in order to learn it.

    Or, maybe it’s a bit of both.

    (These are just my rough guesses, of course…)


    Post count: 845

    The only thing I can suggest in addition to the above is to contact a coach on the list and explain the situation.  Make a list of specifics so you will be prepared before you call.  The coach may be willing to work with you on a limited basis for free in hopes that you in return will direct any potential business back to him.  You probably see an above average number of ADHD students and would be a good source for referrals.

    Hopefully you can work together for your mutual benefit.

    There might be one of your other students who would be willing to help you teach your ADHD student.  As I am sure you know, one way to learn is by teaching.


    Post count: 363

    Another thought, related to what kc5jck is saying, is I wonder if the student himself might be able to help teach other students. He would then be able to talk, walk around, interact, and probably solidify his own learning by teaching. Or write papers with the goal of using them as instructional materials.

    Sometimes people with ADHD are happy to have the opportunity to be useful or to contribute. Maybe this guy would welcome the chance to “help out” – and that would force him to think more deeply and carefully about the material.


    Post count: 906

    Two excellent ideas- having another student help ADHD guy and havIng ADHD guy help others. Either one could work very well.

    I can’t resist the urge to “help out”. Which is why I am here at….12:48 am…instead of in bed where I should be. Yikes! I didn’t know it was that late. And I really needed to go to bed early tonight and be well rested for tomorrow.

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