Tips on How to Study Effectively with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is one of the most common learning disorders among students of all stages of education. Children, teenagers, and adults can show symptoms and suffer from the pressure to study and learn content. After all, having focus and concentration to understand is one of the biggest difficulties for people with ADHD.
Is it possible to study with ADHD? Life with attention deficit hyperactivity syndrome is not easy, always energized, always “on”, always driven. Concentrating on the essentials, filtering stimuli and emotions is much more difficult for those affected than others. Is it then even possible to study under these conditions? We say yes.
What happens in the brain of those who study with ADHD?
What differentiates an ADHD brain from a typically developing one is its ability to regulate an individual’s behaviour. This ability has nothing to do with your intelligence. The main cause of the disorder changes in neurotransmitters (chemical substances that communicate between neurons) such as dopamine and norepinephrine, in the frontal lobe of the brain. This area of the brain is responsible for the student’s ability to focus attention on studies, memorize, maintain self-control, organize, and plan.
It also performs various containment functions. It is like a filter or a brake system that retains the speed and intensity of the flow of thoughts, impulses, and movements of a human being. In the ADHD brain, there is a low production or misuse of these neurotransmitters, causing failures in this system. Consequently, the brain is “unbraked” and thoughts start to circulate at a speed well above the average and impulses reach a much more intense activity.
On the other hand, dopamine is also related to our brain’s reward system and is released when we perform activities that give us pleasure. This release causes the ADHD brain to balance its dosage. This explains the ability of an attention-deficit student to remain highly focused during tasks of real interest.
How to know if you have ADHD?
ADHD is not acquired over a lifetime. The person is born with it. Its symptoms are evidenced early in childhood, especially at school age, when they usually affect learning and socialization. To be diagnosed with attention deficit, the person necessarily already had the symptoms of ADHD as a child. These symptoms may diminish or even disappear between adolescence and adulthood, but they usually manifest throughout life in about 2/3 of the cases.
How ADHD affects college students
Experts have established that ADHD can result in several academic problems for students including:
- Poor academic performance and achievement: Experts have established that students with ADHD tend to nurse the feeling of dissatisfaction with their results in school. This feeling is mostly caused by the inability or difficulty in starting and finishing schoolworks, trouble remembering assignments, difficulty memorizing facts, and trouble working on papers or complex math problems.
- Troubles with time management: It has also been established that people with this disorder tend to find it difficult to manage their time. This includes problems with being on time, preparing and planning for the future, and prioritizing tasks. While students reported making plans to improve their time management skills, they often failed to follow through or gave up.
- Difficulty regulating and managing emotions: Students who have ADHD also often struggle with issues related to interpersonal problems, negative thoughts, and poor self-esteem.
8 Tips to study effectively
1. Select a suitable subject
The most important requirement for studying with ADHD is that you are passionate about your subject. There is no specific subject or particularly suitable occupation for ADHD because it depends on your personal interests. Anything that looks like a boring routine to you has the potential to make you fail. To stop a particular study is indeed no shame. But you will save yourself wasted time and frustration if you deal with your special requirements beforehand. In addition to the right study place, you must create the right framework conditions.
2. Use extrinsic motivation
Every field of study contains parts that are not very exciting. Students with ADHD especially find it hard to succeed in such cases with self-motivation. There is a risk that important learning phases will be postponed or that the content will simply not get into your head. To prevent any procrastination, those affected should team up with other students and form study groups when dealing with such content. This not only has the advantage that you motivate each other but also builds up or consolidates the social contacts that are important for ADHD people.
3. Look for a low-stimulus environment
In a student dormitory or a shared apartment, a person affected will hardly be able to concentrate. The potential for distraction is simply too great here. A quiet room in a rural area is better. For this very reason, ADHD people should also look for a seat in the front rows whenever possible. Anyone who still fears that they will be too distracted by the presence of others should consider recording the lecture.
4. Do sports constantly
In principle, all sports that are fun are suitable. Individual sports such as jogging or cycling have the great advantage that you cannot break team rules through your impulsiveness. Team sports are often characterized by rapid changes; that suit the tendency towards constant change. On the other hand, individual sports are suitable for focusing on one and the same thing for a longer period.
5. Choose conscious study times
Find out when you assimilate a lot at home. You should plan your learning phases accordingly. It is possible that the early evening is a better time to study than the late afternoon; the mild twilight at the end of the day has a calming effect and the everyday stress slowly subsides. Noise-dampening earplugs and drawn-down blinds can also help because they block out anything that could potentially be distracting. It is very important to point out that you should switch off your mobile phone, television, e-mail notification on the laptop, if you are writing your homework on it. Non-ADHD students can put up with small acoustic disturbances. For those affected, every little “Bing” on the cell phone harbours the risk of not finding the way back to the topic.
6. Take planned time off
Even the most stimulating environment will not be able to suppress spontaneous impulses and thoughts. Those affected should allow their thoughts space and daydreams, otherwise, they will continue to think about in their heads, then nothing works anymore. Our tip, write down the ideas in an impulse book which results in the student dedicating himself to them and documenting them. That creates security. He can take them off for the time being but return to them at any time.
7. Incorporate fixed rituals in your schedule
Clear rules and plans are important, as ADHD patients find it difficult to deal with unpredictability. Hence rituals are important. They bring structure and relief to everyday life. Fixed mealtimes, learning plans, and a clearly regulated daily routine can make a big difference here. Even rules that are repeated in a mantra-like manner help to focus again, one at a time. Those affected should be aware that monotasking leads to the goal.
8. Study in an efficient manner, not a difficult way
Boredom and learning memory are issues for most people with ADHD. Research shows that multimodal learning helps people learn and remember. So instead of pushing harder to get the information, get creative. Here are some creative ways to study and remember what you studied:
- Highlight text with different coloured pens.
- Record notes as voice memos and listen to them as you travel across campus.
- Use acronyms to create fun ways to remember facts.
- Try to get up while reading.
- Try reading a task aloud using an expressive voice.
- If you can, get the audio version of a book you need to read and listen to while taking notes and/or exercises.
- Work with a fellow student.
Not everything works for everyone, it’s worth a try. Taking breaks to study every two hours and getting enough sleep are also part of the smarter study, which is by no means more difficult.