In the previous post, we discussed some of the difficulties that can be challenging for college students with attention deficit disorder — the fact is that regardless of whether or not a student takes medication for the disorder, some behavioral changes need to be implemented to insure academic success.
As an aside, the good news is that several studies over the last several years show that students who do take stimulant medication to control ADD symptoms are not at an increased risk for stroke later in life.
Managing Daily Life
Back to behavioral strategies: the suggestions in these two articles come from my experience managing ADD as an adult and as the parent of graduate and post-graduate students who made it through the academic challenges facing adults with the disorder, as well as from interviews with those specializing in treating children and adults with disorder.
Yesterday, we talked about the necessity of religiously keeping a calendar, whether electronic or printed on paper. Those with ADD think spatially rather than linearly — a calendar is the most important tool we can use to manage our daily lives.
Next, it’s important to divide the day into sections, either by time of day (morning, noon and evening) or by activity (work time, class time, study time, free time, etc). Looking at the day in its entirety can be distracting, and the last thing those of us with ADD need are more distractions. Here are the next steps:
3. Fill in the times that are automatically accounted for, such as work hours and classes scheduled for the day, and be specific (make a note of exactly which class you’ll be attending).
4. Next, schedule your study time — and here’s the critical part of this equation, break down your study time by half our, or even every 15 minutes, making not of exactly what subject you’ll be studying. I work best in 30 minute increments, even to this day. Take advantage of your ability as an adult with ADD to thrive with variety — but remember that the variety of activities you’ll be engaged in need to be meticulously planned, and not randomly addressed as the need presents itself.
The added benefit of this approach is that the small victories that make up staying on schedule help make the long haul of seeking a degree more doable. Breaking things down as thoroughly as possible also helps us see exactly how much we’ve accomplished.
5. Keep your study schedule as consistent as possible by studying each subject every day or every other day; this will increase retention while dramatically reducing stress. ADD isn’t conducive to cramming the night before an exam.
Stay positive. Students with ADD are typically very intelligent, and are often very creative – and although focusing doesn’t come naturally to us, establishing self-imposed boundaries help to train our minds to keep our days and thought processes channeled.
For more information on ADD, visit the Attention Deficit Disorder Association website.