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The AD/HD Student and College Composition: Unlocking the Gate Barbara Graham Cooper Howard Community College Columbia, Maryland.

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Presentation on theme: "The AD/HD Student and College Composition: Unlocking the Gate Barbara Graham Cooper Howard Community College Columbia, Maryland."— Presentation transcript:

1 The AD/HD Student and College Composition: Unlocking the Gate Barbara Graham Cooper Howard Community College Columbia, Maryland

2 Who is the AD/HD student? Portrait J. P. Collomose and P. M. Hall

3 My Name is ADD My name is ADD Short for Attention Deficit Disorder I will make you impulsive you will do stupid things I will distract you Keep you from doing easy things School work will come hard daydreaming comes easy I will make you hyper, maybe I will give you tantrums and energy you can’t stop I will make you creative You will see what no one else sees You will understand things in a different way You can not cure me You can only treat me You will have me for life My name is ADD -- Cary G. Cooper


5 In his 1892 Talks to Teachers, William James recognized “a great native variety among individuals in the type of their attention…” “ In others we must suppose the margin to be brighter, and to be filled with something like meteoric showers of images, which strike into it at random, displacing the focal ideas, and carrying association in their own direction.”

6 AD/HD is not the result of Poor Parenting Inadequate Teaching Laziness Lack of Moral Fiber Emotional Disturbance Cultural Dysfunction Decline of American Character

7 AD/HD is the result of a neurological difference

8 How is the neurological difference manifested? “Executive dysfunction is the most important cognitive deficiency in AD/HD, more important than impaired attention.” Russell A. Barkley ADHD and the Nature of Self Control

9 Executive Functions directly impact the process of writing Organization and planning over time Inhibition of impulsive action Set-maintenance and set-shifting Ability to mentally manipulate information and work with more than one set of information at a time Use of self-directed speech Ability to absorb new information in an organized, coherent manner Ability to draw on previously learned information to perform goal-directed activities.

10 What does this have to do with College Composition? “If even one LD [or AD/HD] student is a member of a college writing class, mainstream or basic, then Composition as a field should educate itself about the needs of that student.” Patricia Dunn Learning Re-abled: The Learning Disability Controversy and Composition Studies

11 The AD/HD Student: The Invisible Challenge Composition teachers cannot be expected to diagnose AD/HD But we are trained to diagnose writing/language problems and prescribe ways to “fix” them

12 AD/HD Writers exhibit a constellation of problems Inconsistent performance Poor time management Procrastination Perfectionism Writer’s block Easily distracted from task Poor handwriting Sophisticated and unusual ideas that are inadequately developed

13 Topic that is too broad or too complex for the time and space of the assignment Poor or non-existent transitions Extremely complex sentence structures Sentence fragments Poor (sometimes bizarre) spelling Late assignments or failure to submit assignments at all


15 But AD/HD Writers also have Positive Traits: High energy level Intelligent Highly verbal Unique perspective Intensity about interests Creative Responsive to structure

16 Russell Barkley said: “ADD is considered to be not a disorder of not knowing what to do, but rather a disorder of not doing what you know.” qtd. in Out of the Fog, Murphy and LeVert

17 Implications for Teaching Composition Provide students with explicit opportunities to develop their understanding of their own learning/processing strengths and weaknesses and how these affect their writing. Help students to feel comfortable in the class. Provide written directions for each assignment that clearly state what is expected. Break assignments into a series of clearly manageable tasks and hold students accountable for completing each task.

18 Provide explicit, strategy-based instruction in written-language structures, rules and discourse conventions. Use advance organizers. Integrate listening, speaking, reading and writing. Incorporate non-verbal modalities. Devise activities that will allow students to discover the connections between old and new knowledge Help students discover which strategies work for them. Establish a routine for submitting work.

19 Chinese Proverb: I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

20 The Principle of Universal Design: What is essential for some is beneficial for all.

21 Hold the gate open…

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