Recently Juan Casteneda wrote a blog post about students with ADD/ADHD.  Juan and I are both tutors and have had many of the same experiences with our students.  What strikes us is the frequency that the ADD/ADHD label is handed out when a kid isn’t doing well, particularly in math, geometry, algebra, etc.

In over fifteen years of tutoring, I can count on one hand our students who had verifiable learning disabilities.  In the case of supposed ADD/ADHD, we recommend that parents rely on the expertise of a certain licensed psychologist.  He uses all digital real-time Neuropathways EEG’s (electroencephalograms) to diagnose brain abnormalities and then attempts to correct any abnormalities by means of neurofeedback instead of medication.   The parents of one of our elementary school students had the testing done after being told that he had ADD/ADHD.  (This 8 year old could not sit still to save his life, but when I let him doodle, it was easier for him to sit quietly and to focus on infinite series.)  The testing uncovered petit mal seizures!  And more often than not, our students have more  dyslexic tendencies than ADD/ADHD.  You can see why a proper diagnosis is extremely important when the usual mode of care is to medicate the child.

I’m always skeptical when I hear that a student has been told he has ADD/ADHD.  In most cases, that student has no problem focusing on a video game or favorite hobby for hours on end.  After asking the parent many questions, ADD/ADHD usually doesn’t accurately describe the students situation.

There are a number of other good habits that often help children who do not focus well.  Few habits help more than hard work and diligent study.  It overcomes a multitude of evils, namely, slack study habits and, yes, moderate health issues.  In fact, the determining factor for the success of our students is how hard they study and practice.     We can teach them all the cool tricks in the world, but if they don’t study, they can ‘fuggedabout’ getting better grades.

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned intelligence.   That’s because we haven’t met a kid who wasn’t smart enough NOT to work hard.  Every kid has the ability to work hard.  It’s all about how much she wants better grades.  Even our students with disabilities are as smart and often smarter than the average student because they have learned to work harder.   It also doesn’t matter if a student doesn’t like the subject at hand.  It matters if she likes getting A’s and B’s and how hard she is willing to work for it or how much she wants her cell phone or computer privileges back…

In the end,  the declaration that a student has ADD/ADHD and subsequent medication of that child is an attempt to quiet the learner who needs to be taught another way and another attitude towards studying.

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