Teaching to Attention Deficit Disorder in the English Classroom
Fleury, Anna A.
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What do Thomas Edison, former Kalamazoo College student Erik, current Portage High School remedial English student Terry (pseudonym), and Albert Einstein all have in common? They all have (or probably had) Attention Deficit Disorder. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a story of people; it comes in many different shapes and sizes and is too complex to have simple solutions - one of the reasons it can be difficult to deal with in a classroom. Most importantly, ADD comes in different packages; each student is different and ADD affects each one differently. Some students learn to cope with ADD extremely well, others find ways of using ADD to their advantage (these students are often described as "gifted" and are thus never even tested for ADD), while other students struggle with their ADD, trying to learn how to learn. Still others, possibly the majority, are not even aware they have ADD and will continue to struggle in many minute and specific aspects of their academic life. As this is a story of individuals and an individualistic disorder, you will note how I usually place the phrase "usually" in front of my descriptions of ADD students. This is because ADD does not affect students equally across the board, so while one ADD student may struggle futilely to write anything coherently, another student may utilize the advantages of their ADD to be an excellent analytical writer. Some ADD students struggle to focus on English homework, but may hyper-focus on their math homework. My descriptions in this study are given only where my research on ADD and my experience during my internship coincided. The bottom line is this: ADD is not a concrete disorder, nor are students cookie-cutter outlines of each other. Therefore, there is no one specific way to deal with ADD, nor is there a recipe for teaching to it. Certain techniques are helpful across the board, and I will explore some tips that will help teachers cope with ADD students, but in the end, you have to find what works best for you as a teacher, and what works with each individual student. ADD is about individuals; this is a story of people, not a disorder.