Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is a complex condition that is often complicated by poor Working Memory.
In the math classroom, students with good working memory are able to stay on the task at hand because their working memory tells them to stay focused. It helps them to ignore distractions and manage their behaviour as they complete each question or assignment.
Students with ADHD may be ready to explore and take on a new math concept, but it often appears as if they are working against themselves. Their motor cortex is overactive, so they need to keep moving. They may attempt to keep focused by tapping the desk, doodling on paper or talking out in class if they don’t understand a concept.
It isn’t difficult to understand how these disruptions interfere with their working memory. It cannot do double duty and manage behaviour as it tries to learn a new math concept, so the student may tire and slip into daydreaming in the middle of a lesson. The result of this confusion is that the math student with ADHD has a working memory that cannot clearly learn or recall math facts and concepts let alone apply them in math homework.
In short, the students’ lack of focus due to ADHD results in gaps in their learning that inhibits them from being successful.
Rethinking the way we instruct these students and gearing instruction to foster permanent learning will assist these students in overcoming their difficulties.