Tutoring College Students with AD(H)D Essay

This essay has a total of 2021 words and 10 pages.

Tutoring College Students with AD(H)D

Tutoring College Students with AD(H)D


We have all heard of the schoolboy who doesn't know how to stay in his seat at school;
instead he climbs furniture and makes noise during work time. We have also all known a
schoolgirl who looks out the window quietly daydreaming instead of paying attention to the
teacher. We now know that the hyperactive boy has a neurological disorder called attention
deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) (Hallowell & Ratey, 1994; Latham, 2000). Experts
recently have agreed that the daydreaming girl also has ADHD - sometimes called ADD
because it occurs without hyperactivity (Hallowell & Ratey, 1994). But what happens when
the child with AD(H)D grows up? How can tutors work with college students who have AD(H)D?

What AD(H)D Is
College tutors need to understand what AD(H)D is before learning how to accommodate this
condition. The three most important symptoms of AD(H)D are inattentiveness, impulsivity,
and hyperactivity (DSM-IV, 1994; Hallowell & Ratey, 1994; Latham, 2000). The Diagnostic
Statistical Manual of Mental Health (DSM-IV) explains that simply having these symptoms is
not enough to diagnose AD(H)D because everyone sometimes has the same symptoms. These
symptoms must be "persistent" and they must be "more frequent and severe" than they are
for other people at about the same level of development (DSM-IV, p. 78).

It is possible to diagnose AD(H)D later in life, but only if the symptoms began before age
7. Also, symptoms should cause problems in two or more settings, for example at both work
and home. Furthermore, AD(H)D can only be diagnosed if the symptoms make it hard for the
person to learn how to function well socially, academically, and at work (DSM-IV, p. 78).
Symptoms might not show up if the person is under "very strict control," is in a new
place, or is doing "especially interesting" activities, or is working with only one other
person (p. 79).

AD(H)D is not a single condition; instead, there are three subtypes. People with the
predominantly inattentive type have trouble paying attention. Those with the predominantly
hyperactive-impulsive type are hyperactive and impulsive. The combined type includes all
three major symptoms (DSM-IV, p. 80). Perhaps the most well known symptom of AD(H)D is
hyperactivity, but Hallowell and Ratey (1994) emphasize that not all people with AD(H)D
are hyperactive. Indeed, they say that many people with ADD-mostly girls and women-are
quiet daydreamers (p. 153). Robertson (2000) notes that children with AD(H)D are
"consistently inconsistent." That means the same student could do very well in school one
month then very poorly the next (Hallowell & Ratey, p. 65). Hallowell and Ratey also point
out that people with AD(H)D are sometime able to hyper focus. That means they may focus
very well on one thing for a long time and will have trouble stopping when it is time to

What exactly does it mean to be inattentive, impulsive, or hyperactive? Some specific
symptoms of inattentiveness can include overlooking details, making careless mistakes,
doing messy work, having trouble paying attention, changing from one activity to another
without finishing anything, and being easily distracted. Some examples of impulsivity
include impatience, frequently interrupting other people, talking at the wrong time,
clowning around, and doing dangerous things without thinking about what will happen.
Hyperactivity in children can include fidgeting and squirming, leaving one's seat when one
isn't supposed to, running and climbing at the wrong time, having trouble playing quietly,
and talking too much (DSM-IV, pp. 78-79).

AD(H)D in Adults
Research into AD(H)D among adults is still new (Hallowell & Ratey, 1994). People used to
believe that AD(H)D was a childhood disorder that could be outgrown. However, researchers
now understand that they were wrong-AD(H)D can continue through college age and the rest
of one's life (Latham, 2000). Up to two-thirds of AD(H)D children become AD(H)D adults
(Hallowell & Ratey, p. 6).

College students who have AD(H)D may have trouble organizing, prioritizing, and finishing
their work on time, doing long assignments, doing tasks that have many steps, writing
papers, handling math requirements, interacting with faculty and students in an
appropriate way, meeting expectations, and following rules (Latham, 2000). AD(H)D adults
in general often feel they are underachievers, are disorganized, procrastinate, do many
projects at the same time without finishing anything, can't stand boredom, can't focus,
have low tolerance for frustration, are impulsive, worry a lot, and have mood swings.
Hyperactive adults are not as hyper as children, but they are often restless and may pace
a lot, drum their fingers, or fidget (Hallowell & Ratey, p. 73).

Tips for Working with AD(H)D Students
There is very little literature on how to tutor college students with AD(H)D. However,
many authors have shared ideas on how teachers can help children in their classroom who
have AD(H)D. Other authors have shared ideas on how people with AD(H)D can help themselves
become more organized. Some of these ideas may be useful for tutors who work with college

Booth (1998) emphasizes that it is important for teachers (and, one presumes, tutors) to
be aware that "no two students with ADD or LD are alike and that there are multiple
approaches that can and will be different from student to student" (para. 7 under subhead
"Teacher attitudes and beliefs"). Accordingly, Booth encourages teachers to be flexible.
Similarly, one fact sheet suggests that teachers should find out what specific things are
hard for each student. For example, one student with AD(H)D might have trouble starting a
task, and another student might have trouble finishing one task and starting the next
("General Information," 1999, August, para. 2 under subhead "Teacher Tips"). Hallowell and
Ratey (1994) say that teachers should be open to new ideas because sometimes what helps
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