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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Tannenbaum

ADHD and Its Impact on Executive Function

ADHD is an executive function disorder because it hampers a person's impulse-control. When someone with ADHD feels an impulse to continue an activity that they find stimulating, like video games or scrolling through Instagram, when they should switch to a more important task, they find it extremely difficult, or outright impossible, to pause long enough to stop what they're doing and redirect their focus and energy towards the other endeavor. If a student with ADHD manages to start their homework, they very often don't concentrate for long, because they can't overcome their impulse to shift their attention to something they find stimulating.

Fortunately, ADHD is manageable. Managing it has both a biological and behavioral component. Since ADHD is neurobiological, medication very often has a major role - often the biggest role - to play in helping a student manage their effective functioning issues. With the behavioral piece, students with ADHD need to learn to pause from what stimulates them; change what they say to themselves because their own words can help shape their emotions and, thus, help shape their ability to shift gears; and change what they visualize, because visuals - both in their mind and what's in front of them externally - can have enormous impacts on behavior.

For students with ADHD, it's vital that they do their homework in a structured, rationally-planned environment that helps keep them on task. For example, students with ADHD should have numerous, noticeable clocks in the room in which they do homework and/or test-prep. A big clock should be right in front of them; there should be clocks on the walls so that if they lose their focus and start darting their eyes around the room, the clocks will serve as external reminders that they need to stay focused.

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