“Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a brain-based disorder that results in significant inattention, hyperactivity, distractability, or a combination of these characteristics.” Many learning disabilities, including dyslexia and ADHD, are “linked both to heredity (genetics) as well as to brain structure and function.” Estimates are that about one-third of kids with learning disabilities also have ADHD. Dyslexics are not an exception. ADHD and memory challenges often overlap as well.
The Mayo Clinic provides a comprehensive list of ADHD signs and symptoms but also points out that if your child’s attention-related concerns do not occur both at home and at school (or with friends), the problem could be something other than an attention deficit.
Some of the ADHD signs and symptoms are:
ADHD and memory, in particular, working memory are often connected. Many of the signs and symptoms of ADHD overlap strongly with those of working memory challenges.
Most students with ADHD and memory concerns, and many other students as well, would benefit from doing some targeted cognitive skills building work. We offer the MindPrint Cognitive Skills Assessment to find out where your student lies with 9 key cognitive skills. We also offer BrainWare SAFARI Cognitive Skills Training Program that works on both cognitive skills such as working memory and attention and key literacy skills such as phonics, comprehension, and spelling.
Many students diagnosed with ADHD are actually exhibiting symptoms of another, less widely diagnosed challenge. Working-memory deficits often get missed because they look a lot like attention problems. ADHD and memory are often closely linked.
Attention allows information to be taken in. Working memory allows the brain to hold on to information long enough to process it and make sense of it. Many students with learning struggles have challenges with attention, working memory, or both. At the Harvard Learning Differences Conference it was noted that working memory, attention, and executive function are closely linked cognitive functions that are “interwoven in a complex system of neural networks [that] are crucial to the learning process.” This is one reason that working-memory disorders are often mistaken for attention disorders. Many concerns related to ADHD and memory are closely connected. On the flip side, many of the same supports that help improve attention disorders also help improve working memory and other executive functions.
Working memory involves the brain manipulating information in some way to make use of it. When too many pieces of information come at the child all at once, they can shut down, explode, or express their overwhelming anxiety in other ways. A computer has a working memory as well. When it gets too many bits of data across its circuitry, it slows down or can lock up. When that happens, the computer needs to reboot. It is no different for a child.
How do you know if your child has memory issues? A child can be constrained by their working-memory capacity if they:
These problems can all be related to working-memory issues! At Wings to Soar we offer an online solution that boosts working-memory skills. Cogmed Working Memory Training exercises help increase the number of pieces of information the memory can retain at one time. Students using Cogmed see improvement in areas that have previously been thought of as attention problems. We also offer Fast ForWord and BrainWare SAFARI, which address working memory and attention as a portion of the cognitive skillsaddressed.
See also the article on Improving Executive Function
At Wings to Soar Online Academy, we work with you to create a customized package that includes the programs that are just right for your unique situation. If you have curriculum that is already working for a particular learning area, we respect that and don’t want you to feel you need to enroll in more than you need with us. We want to come alongside you to help you fill in the gaps of what isn’t working. Please explore the menu of possible online programs that we offer at Wings to Soar that we could include in your child’s Path to Success™ Personalized Learning Plan on our Learning Solutions page.
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