The Rewards and Lessons Learned Tutoring ADHD Students: ADD vs ADHD
As we have entered a new century, and certainly a new period in history in terms of our development as a people and as a nation, the fast paced world we live has compounded the myriad challenges professional tutors, particularly tutors specializing in tutoring students with attention deficit disorder, better known as ADD, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, better known as ADHD have faced.
Here’s a definition from Wikipedia.
But first, I will add a qualifier:
While many academics and professionals take issue with the use of the Internet, and in particular Wikipedia, both are tools and only as good as the individual wielding those tools. Yes, the Internet and Wikipedia are fraught with mistakes, misinformation, and, well, pure garbage; and yet, both can be incredibly useful tools in the hands of students, academics, and professionals, alike.
And for all of the critics out there?
Well, they better get used to both because we aren’t going back…nor would most of us want to!
Even if you think you know what ADD and ADHD are, it would be a good idea to check this definition out!
So, here it is, as promised:
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral disorder characterized by either significant difficulties of inattention or hyperactivity and impulsiveness or a combination of the two. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR), symptoms emerge before seven years of age. There are three subtypes of the disorder which consist of it being predominantly inattentive (ADHD-PI or ADHD-I), predominantely hyperactive-impulsive (ADHD-HI or ADHD-H), or the two combined (ADHD-C). Oftentimes people refer to ADHD-PI as “attention deficit disorder” (ADD), however, the latter has not been officially accepted since the 1994 revision of the DSM. ADHD impacts school-aged children and results in restlessness, acting impulsively, and lack of focus which impairs their ability to learn properly.
- It is the most commonly studied and diagnosed psychiatric disorder in children, affecting about 3 to 5 percent of children globally and is diagnosed in about 2 to 16 percent of school-aged children. It is a chronic disorder with 30 to 50 percent of those individuals diagnosed in childhood continuing to have symptoms into adulthood. Adolescents and adults with ADHD tend to develop coping mechanisms to compensate for some or all of their impairments. It is estimated that 4.7 percent of American adults live with ADHD. ADHD is diagnosed two to four times more frequently in boys than in girls. Its symptoms can be difficult to differentiate from other disorders, increasing the likelihood that the diagnosis of ADHD will be missed. In addition, most clinicians have not received formal training in the assessment and treatment of ADHD, in particular in adult patients. Standardized rating scales can be used for ADHD screening and assessment of the disorder’s symptoms’ severity.
- ADHD management usually involves some combination of medications, behavior therapy, lifestyle changes, and counseling. Only children with severe ADHD symptoms should be considered for medication as a first-line treatment option. Medication therapy can also be considered for those with moderate ADHD symptoms who either refuse psychotherapeutic options or else fail to respond to psychotherapeutic input.:p.317
- ADHD and its diagnosis and treatment have been considered controversial since the 1970s. The controversies have involved clinicians, teachers, policymakers, parents and the media. Topics include ADHD’s causes, and the use of stimulant medications in its treatment. Most healthcare providers accept ADHD as a genuine disorder with debate in the scientific community centering mainly around how it is diagnosed and treated. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence, while acknowledging the controversy, states that the current treatments and methods of diagnosis are based on the dominant view of the academic literature.:p.133
Regarding ADD as a Subtype of ADHD:
- Attention deficit disorder (ADD) is one of the three subtypes of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The term was formally changed in 1994 in the new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV) to “ADHD predominantly inattentive” (ADHD-PI or ADHD-I), though the term attention deficit disorder is still widely used. ADD is similar to the other subtypes of ADHD in that it is characterized primarily by inattention, easy distractibility, disorganization, procrastination, and forgetfulness; where it differs is in lethargy – fatigue, and having fewer or no symptoms of hyperactivity or impulsiveness typical of the other ADHD subtypes.
The DSM-V seems to be taking an even more definitive stand:
- 3. DSM-IV subtypes of predominantly hyperactive-impulsive and predominantly inattentive ADHD have not been supported by the empirical data; instead the evidence suggests that the classification of subtypes in ADHD is strongly influenced by method variance (e.g., by differences in informants, instruments, or in the algorithms used for combining information across informants). The consensus is that the existing subtypology is not useful.
- a. One question being examined is whether to differentiate ADD from ADHD. ADD would only apply in the near or complete absence of lifetime expression of hyperactive/impulsive symptoms; individuals with appreciable hyperactivity symptoms in childhood would retain the diagnosis of ADHD even if the hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms were to be in partial or full remission. This is not a simple reversion to DSM-III ADD, since that construct permitted/required symptoms of impulsivity.
- b. Alternatively, there could be a single disorder of ADHD comprising the popular conceptions of ADD and ADHD.
- c. The decision regarding these two options will turn on our judgment regarding the sufficiency of evidence of clinically meaningful distinctions between non-hyperactive/impulsive ADD and ADHD; also relevant will be estimates of the prevalence of the putative ADD construct.
- d. Data being compiled by Work Group members bearing on these issues will shortly be available to provide a stronger basis for these decisions.
In Other Words: ADHD Stays and ADD, well….
At any rate, we all know that information overload is a problem for almost everyone trying to keep pace in this fast paced world. However, there is a certain subset of the population that seems to be struggling. Interestingly, more adults seem to be stepping forward with the same sort of complaints, the same symptoms, many of the ADHD students I tutor are plagued with.
Is this a new expression of ADHD or did these men and women have ADHD all along and we just missed it the first time around?
Well, I’d say yes…and yes!
However, there is a qualifier here, as well:
Many of the men and women I see who are complaining of ADHD-like symptoms as they attempt to keep up with their business-lives and/or their undergraduate or postgraduate workload are, in fact, experiencing a severe form of information overload. Information overload as a consequence of the rapid pace of how information is being disseminated…and the pace of living, in general.
In other words, many people—I’d argue most—simply cannot keep up…nor should they!
In today’s interconnected world of iPhones and Androids, iPads and Galaxies, Kindles and Nooks…and they are indeed everywhere…information, and people, are available 24/7/365.
This is indeed an exciting time to be alive!
However, it comes at a price!
Let me ask you a question:
If so many adults appear to be suffering from some sort of information overload version of ADHD, is it really all that surprising that a large and growing subset of our student population would also be exhibiting the same sort of symptoms?
This is not to say attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is not a real condition!
In fact, after more than 30 years of tutoring ADHD students from 5 to 55 years of age and beyond (throughout the Cleveland area and in other regions of the country when in school), and unlike some academicians and medical professionals specializing in education and in ADHD, I have little doubt that ADHD is very real.
Tragically, I have also witnessed first-hand the consequences of ADHD. I am utterly convinced that ADHD can, and will, wreak havoc on a student’s life, in and out of the classroom, if ADHD is not properly diagnosed and treated!
Treatment* of Students with ADHD:
a) Diagnosis by a Medical Practitioner Specializing in Treating ADHD in Children and/or Adults
b) Psychological Support when Necessary – Either through a Mentoring Program of through a Psychology Practice with Psychologists and Support Staff Experienced in Working with Children and/or Adults Diagnosed with ADHD
c) Ongoing School Guidance Support through the Guidance Office
d) Regular Meetings with the Student’s Guidance Counselor(s) and Teachers – To Ensure Proper Monitoring and Support
e) A Professional Tutor – A Tutor with Experience Specializing in Tutoring, Mentoring, and Coaching Students with ADD (definition notwithstanding and diagnosis dependent), ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Other Learning Challenges
The combination of all five components is crucial for ongoing success!
No, all ADHD students will not require psychological support. But that’s a decision that should, whenever possible, be made by the physician and the student’s parents (or the physician and the adult patient).
The fact is, most ADHD students will require ongoing education-based counseling and support. It is easy to fall behind and most ADHD students may not ask for help until they are in trouble…if then! Therefore, once the diagnosis has been made and the medical care assured, the school must be notified and a professional tutor experienced in tutoring ADHD students must be consulted and brought on board.
Ultimately, we are talking about assuring a successful life for the student!
It is crucial that the ADHD student be provided with all of the medical, psychological, and education-based support he or she will require to not only get through their years in school, but to flourish!
Definitions aside, if you think you, your son, or your daughter is in trouble?
They probably are, so don’t hesitate to ask for help!
You can seek for your child at any level in the treatment paradigm…as long as you ultimately cover all of your bases and seek out professionals experienced in tutoring ADHD students.
Professor John Zajaros, founder of Westside Tutoring and Testing Services, has well over 30 years of experience tutoring students with ADHD and at all levels, from pre-school through professional school and postgraduate work.
Professor Zajaros has also spent years mentoring and coaching businessmen and businesswomen attempting to come to grips with information overload, business building, and diagnosed ADHD in this fast paced world.
If you would like to schedule a consultation, call 440-821-7018 24/7/365 and, if we do not pick up, leave a detailed message with a time and date that is best to call you back and we will do our best to do so.
In every instance, we will call you back within 24 hours!
We Work with Students in All Subjects and at All Levels!
Contact Westside Tutoring & Testing Services Immediately!
Professor John P. J. “Jack” Zajaros, Sr.
*I am not a medical practitioner. My NSF funded doctoral fellowship and studies at a consortium made up of Columbia University, NYU, CUNY Graduate Center, the American Museum of Natural History, and the New York Zoological Society, in physical anthropology, were primarily focused on “bones!” And specifically on the age-progressive phenomena affecting the spine and sacroiliac joint. However, I have had a lifelong passion for working with students affected with learning challenges (specifically ADHD). It is an avocation that has, and always will be, a huge part of my life. Again, I am not a medical doctor. Seek a medical diagnosis before declaring yourself, your son, or your daughter as affected by ADHD. Be grateful if it is simply information overload…and call me either way, I can help with both!