By Sean Alexander

5 Strategies for Managing ADHD

Before turning to medication, try these healthy tips that work great.

    Studying math with ADHD, common symptoms

    Studying math with ADHD can be an uphill battle.  The primary symptom of ADHD is a lack of focus, especially for tasks that the student considers boring.  Given that the majority of students consider math boring, studying math with ADHD is a problem for many families.  Don't despair, there is a solution!  Read on to learn the 5 proven methods for studying math with ADHD.

    Steps for studying math with ADHD

    Step 1:  Is ADHD a disability?  Step 1 is to realize that ADHD is a gift, not a curse.  Everyone talks about ADHD as a "disability" with the symptom of "lack of focus."  What is seldom talked about is that ADHD also comes with HYPER-focus for topics the student finds fascinating!  Many famous musicians and athletes have ADHD, which they used to their advantage.  Normal people can't practice their instrument for 8 hours a day, they would lose focus.  Therefore it's important to see ADHD as a super-power.  This is the first step to studying math with ADHD successfully.

    Next, the student must see the relevance of mathematics to their passion in life.  Don't worry, math is relevant to everything.  For example, if your student loves baseball above all else, start by watching the movie Moneyball together.  This is a fantastic true story of an underfunded, underdog professional baseball club bringing on a statistician to help assemble the team.  Guess who won the World Series that year?  These days if sports management doesn't use statistics in assembling their teams they are sure to lose.  Therefore knowledge of mathematics is essential to winning in baseball.  When your student-athlete sees this connection, they will see math as baseball.  You will then be taping into their well of hyper-focused energy and diverting it towards mathematics.  This can be done for any passion your student may have, be it music, history, sports, gaming, dance, etc.  This is the key to studying math with ADHD.

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    Exercise is essential for managing ADHD

    Step 2:  A regular exercise routine is SO important for managing ADHD.  The natural endorphins from exercise act as a focusing agent and are way more effective than Ritalin or Adderall.  The afternoons can be particularly difficult when you have ADHD because your focus has been exhausted.  Figure out what time of day your student tends to lose focus and make that exercise time.  After 45 minutes to an hour of exercise, your student’s focus will be restored.  You will then be able to get another few hours of quality, focused work time in.

    Be sure to pick an exercise routine that your student will get excited about.  If they find running boring, look into different options such as CrossFit or yoga.  It's essential the student really enjoy their chosen exercise otherwise they will lose focus for this as well.  Exercise is crucial for effectively studying math with ADHD.

    Meditation cures ADHD

    Meditation: The Cure for ADHD

    Step 3:  Regular meditation is your most powerful tool for studying math with ADHD.  If your student does 15 to 20 minutes of mediation EVERY morning it will have a profound impact on their attention.  One might ask themselves, what causes ADHD?  Is it a genetic condition?  Or is it a product of our society?

    Kids are increasingly engaged in attention decreasing activities such as video games and cell phones.  Many ADHD students play an insane amount of video games each day, like 5 hours plus.  When I worked at a school for severe learning disabilities the common denominator was the students played 8 hours of video games per day.  8 HOURS, a full-time job!  Video games are designed to make every passing moment filled with activity.  What this does is make moments without activity unbearable.  Each and every moment the mind feels the slightest bit bored or inactive, it can be immediately filled with a cell phone game.  This provides a hit of dopamine to the brain.  What happens when the brain gets used to externally stimulated hits of dopamine?   The levels go down when there is no stimulus.  The result is that just "being" becomes increasingly uncomfortable.  Imagine how hard studying would be when your normal mode of existing is in an action-packed video game?

    Alternatively, you could get in touch with "the in-between moments", which is what meditation is.  The act of becoming comfortable without external stimulation.  Is that not the exercise we should be engaged in to counter the attention-draining effects of society?  Meditation does not need to have religious implications, it is simply learning how to be comfortable without stimulus.  In fact, if you do it for long enough you might find a lack of stimulus to be a blissful state, not an uncomfortable one.

    Healthy diet is essential for managing ADHD

    Step 4: Diet has a huge impact on attention and is a critical component in studying math with ADHD.

    Many ADHD students consume a large amount of sugar.  Did you know sugar is a drug that crosses the blood/brain barrier?  Like all drugs, sugar comes with a crash, and you can't focus when you are crashing.  A healthy diet leads to focus and energy.

    Make sure your ADHD student eats a healthy breakfast.  No sugar cereals!  Consider sending them to school with a packed lunch, often school-provided meals or not healthy.  Reduce sugar-filled snacks like candy bars.  Consider consulting a nutritionist to see what types of food give your student the most energy.

    Some people get really tired after eating meals heavy in carbohydrates such as pasta.  Take the time to construct a diet that provides real energy and you will see big improvements in your student's ability to study math with ADHD.

    Step 5:  Some families have had luck with the standard medicines for ADHD:  Adderall and Ritalin.  However, this should be a last resort after trying all other approaches in this article.  Adderall and Ritalin are both powerful stimulants and are highly addictive.  If you or your child is diagnosed with ADHD, be sure to consult your doctor first and treat these drugs with caution.

    Studying math with ADHD can often be accomplished with natural remedies.   When considering treatments for ADHD, be sure to try the steps in this guide first.  Mental and physical health are essential for managing ADHD and should be given a chance before looking into medication.   If you implement everything listed above you will see a huge difference in your child's attention and focus.  Remember ADHD is a learning genius, and the goal is to tap into that source of energy.  By making mathematics relevant to the students' passions you will engage their hyperfocus.  This is the key to studying math with ADHD.


    • Sean Alexander

      COMMAND PILOT, OWNER Sean has been a professional educator for 15 years and has taught math, physics, and astronomy at all levels.  His experience ranges from working at a high school for severe learning differences to teaching advanced physics at Stanford.  After completing his graduate work in theoretical physics Sean founded Alexander Tutoring, with the mission of revealing the deep connections between math and nature to as many students as possible. 

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