What is ADD/ADHD?
ADD/ADHD is a neurobiological disorder. It is characterised by developmentally inappropriate degrees of impulsivity, attention, and sometimes hyperactivity. ADD/ADHD typically begins in childhood, usually by the age of seven years.
Common symptoms of ADHD include:
- A short attention span
- Being easily distracted
- Constant fidgeting
With ADD, the child or student is inattentive and drifts in and out of paying attention. They may be described as someone who is a dreamer and stares out the window.
With ADHD there is the added difficulty of both concentration and impulse control. Children with ADHD often have a 2-4 year developmental delay. A person with ADHD has been described as someone who is constant motion, as if run by a motor. It is still uncertain whether ADHD can occur in adults without first appearing in childhood.
Based on international prevalence, the number of children under 14 with ADHD in Ireland is believed be somewhere between 8,000 and 43,000. The figure for 15 -24 year olds would be somewhere between 6,000 and 31,000.
(Source: Third Level Guide for Students with ADHD, HADD Family Support Group available here).
IMPACT ON LEARNING SKILLS & DEVELOPMENT
Students with ADD or ADHD may be affected in one, or in several of the following ways:
- Difficulty with concentrating
- Forgetfulness or poor short-term memory
- Failure to take in what you are saying when looking at you
- Difficulty completing tasks
- Difficulty following instructions
- Problems with order and sequencing
- Lack attention to detail
- Make careless mistakes
- Dispaly poor personal organisational skills
- Difficulty with handwriting
- Talk excessively; often interrupt; hyperactivity
- Always needing something in their hands, or chewing on their hands
Comprehension is not generally a problem for those with ADD or ADHD. Their reading level may be the same as their comprehension. Numeracy can be a bigger issue than literacy. By adulthood, many will have developed particular coping skills.
The learning environment is important for those with ADD/ADHD. Sensitivities to lighting, noise and crowds can impact on learning. The following tips may be useful:
- Provide a quiet room for study and learning
- Use a multi sensory approach to learning
- Give clear directions and explain the aim of a task very clearly
- Use colour coding to aid organisational skills
- Aid concentration by giving small chunks of work at a time
- Give extra time for certain tasks as often students may work slowly
- Allow a little 'break out' time after completing a piece of work
- Channel energy by using fun/games in the learning process
- Encourage the use of computer technology
At Primary Education Level:
ADD/ADHD is one of the disorders included in the category of Emotional Disturbance and/or Behavioural Problems recognised by the Department of Education and Skills.
Primary schools get a general allocation to meet the needs of children with special educational needs. This includes specific learning disabilities such as dyslexia and borderline and mild general learning disabilities and Learning difficulties, which includes pupils with:
- Mild speech and language difficulties
- Mild social or emotional difficulties
- Mild co-ordination or attention control difficulties associated with identified conditions such as dyspraxia, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Pupils with these conditions who have been assessed as being in the low incidence category get individual support.
Learning support/resource teachers are appointed to provide support under the general allocation of additional teaching resources to help schools to make suitable provision.
Each school decides how the resources for high incidence support are used and how they are divided among the students who need such support. The additional teaching may be provided in the classroom or in small, separate groups. Some pupils may need additional one-to-one teaching for a specified period.
At Secondary Education Level:
A student who has been receiving special education support or resources while in Primary School is eligible for continuation of support at secondary level, once they continue to have a special educational need.
The same general provisions he/she received in primary school apply at Secondary Level. This typically includes specialist teaching from a Learning Support or Special Education Resource teacher (both now referred to as Special Education teachers).
This support is provided based on need, with the number of hours of support determined by the Individual Education Plan (IEP) drawn up in the last year of primary school.
Reasonable Accommodations at the Certificate Examinations (RACE)
The Race scheme aims to assist students who are at a disadvantage due to a disability, by facilitating access to the state certificate examinations. The scheme has been the subject of much discussion and controversy in recent months and is currently undergoing changes.
Details of the revised 2017 scheme of reasonable accommodations will be available here on the State Examinations Commission website soon.
At Third Level:
ADD/ADHD is one of the disorders covered under the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) system. Important changes were made to DARE for 2016 & 2017 applicants.
|Research findings from AHEAD released in 2015 show that, of the total disabled student population (9,694) at Third Level 2013/14 represented in the research, 375 (3.9%) have ADD / ADHD. The full report is available here.
DARE - Disability Access Route to Education - School leavers with ADHD who are under 23 years old (at 1st January of the application year) can apply for a college place through DARE:
Applicants complete the CAO application by 17.15pm on 1st February. CAO opens for applications on 5th November at 12.00 noon. See www.cao.ie
By 1st March, applicants must answer YES to Question 1 ('Do you wish to be considered for DARE?') on Section A of the Supplementary Information Form (the SIF is a part of your CAO application).
Applicants with ADD/ADHD are required to provide:
Evidence of their disability (Evidence of Disability Form 2016 OR Existing report from a Consultant Psychiatrist OR Psychologist OR Neurologist OR Paediatrician, which must be less than three years old (i.e. dated after 1 February 2013 for 2016 entry) AND
Educational Impact Statement - must be completed by the applicant and your School Principal, Teacher or Guidance Counsellor and returned to the CAO by 17.15pm on 1st April.
|Full details of the DARE screening criteria for applicants with ADHD are available here.
Students should always refer to the detailed DARE application criteria and procedures which are available here.
In the Workplace
Many organisations now make public claims to be an "equal opportunities employer". This suggests the existence of an equal opportunities policy (EOP), which is a policy statement adopted by the organisation declaring an intent not to discriminate and, further, to promote equality by taking steps to aid disadvantaged groups. Such employers are in effect promising to avoid discrimination on grounds of sex or marital status, and may also make such a commitment in relation to people with a disability and racial and ethnic minorities.
Impact on Career Choice
Skills for workplace success fall into two main categories: hard skills and and soft skills. Hard skills are job-specific and they vary, depending upon the industry or field in which you want to work. For example, a graphic artist must have the computer skills that go with that job.
Soft skills are the personal characteristics that go with a variety of jobs - they include social skills, problem solving, communication, time management, and organisation. For example, a person who prefers to work alone might find a research job particularly appealing. Explore Career Skills in more detail here.
For people with ADD/ADHD:
The top characteristics are: creativity, artistic talent, intuitive, empathetic, visionary, inventiveness, originality, exuberance. People who have these qualities, and know how to use them well, can go straight to the top!
- Time management and organisational skills can be difficult to master, but they can be managed with the support of co-workers. Students can start working on their organisational skills during the career search itself.
- Figuring out 'office politics' can be challenging for those with ADD/ADHD - a mentor or co-worker can be assigned to help.
- Routine is tedious. People with ADD/ADHD tend to like constant change and thrive in an environment that is fast-paced, stimulating and in which they have to adapt and analyse. The fire service, police or military, a career as a doctor or a nurse - environments where no two workdays are ever the same can be good career choices.
- Heads down, working alone is often frustrating for ADHD adults - they tend to thrive in an environment filled with human interaction and communication. Sales jobs can be a great way to focus this natural energy.
- They typically prefer to work outside the office - “Work environments that are ‘outside the box’ are perfect for people with ADHD,” for example, sales people who work on commission
- Variety is essential for people with ADHD - Working on cars, boats, and motorcycles is a hands-on, physical job, that is different each day. Construction work is similarly challenging. This kind of work calls on critical-thinking skills, and requires face-to-face interaction can be a great choice for someone with ADHD who feels trapped behind a desk, but loves solving problems
- People with ADHD often need clear deadlines and can thrive in an environment where they have clear instructions and directions - for example, delivery truck drivers with a list of deliveries and a fixed timeline in which to deliver
The high-energy drive typical of people with ADD/ADHD can propel them into fruitful and creative careers. The entertainment industry for example, is a mecca for dreamers, creators, and visionaries. The drive that it takes to succeed in any aspect of entertainment or media, for example, in a career as a graphic artist, a ballet dancer, or a stage actor, might be exhausting for most people, but not for those with ADHD.
People with ADD/ADHD can also be excellent, independent entrepreneurs “When they’re in an area of passion, people with ADHD flourish,”
Famous People with ADD/ADHD
Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps; Singer, Solange Knowles; TV personality Ty Pennington; Game show host, Howie Mandel; Actor, Christopher Knight have all been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. Superstar recording artist and actor, Justin Timberlake, has both ADD/ADHD and OCD.