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Attention and ADHD

March 7th, 2017

What We Know About Attention and ADHD

Attention and ADHD are interconnected. Your ability to attend and stay focused on any activity is directly impacted by ADHD. That being said, ADHD is not a learning disability. ADHD often co-occurs with learning disabilities or dyslexia (about 60% of the time). Those with ADHD, LD, and dyslexia can be successful.

The hallmark symptoms of ADHD are:

  • Short Attention Span
  • Distractibility
  • Disorganization
  • Procrastination
  • Poor Internal Supervision

Additionally, we know that there are 3 different types of ADHD:

Attention and ADHD, ADHD Hyperactive/Impulsive Type Symptoms and Behaviors
Attention and ADHD, ADHD Inattentive Type Symptoms and Behaviors
Attention and ADHD, ADHD Combination Type Symptoms and Behaviors

What Is Attention?

ADHD is all about attention deficits. We speak about that all the time. But, what exactly is attention? And, is there only one type of attention?

Five Types of Attention

  • Focused Attention focused on one thing.
  • Sustained Attention – being able to hold on to attention while completing a task. This works hand-in-hand with focused attention. Staying focused on one thing for a period of time.
  • Selective Attention – selecting the parts you should be paying attention to instead of everything that comes your way. This is your ability to pay attention to what a teacher or parent says and not the other conversations or noises that are in the background.
  • Divided Attention – being able to attend to two or more things at the same time.
  • Alternating Attention – being able to look at something, look away, attend to something else – and then look back and pay attention to the original thing. Another description of this is multitasking.

Attention, ADHD and Productivity

These are all different aspects of attention. Research shows the actual act of switching between two things actually takes longer mentally. The brain assigns rules to how we do something. Switching between tasks means closing one set of rules and opening another. In fact, Scientific American states, ” multitasking may actually reduce productivity.” Executive function is being ‘overtasked’ during the multitasking period of time. This impairs your ability to be as productive as you are when you are focused on one task.

Keep this in mind with the fact that those with ADD/ADHD also have problems with executive function. The best strategy to use is focused attention for short periods of time, take a quick break, then return to the same focused attention activity. This will give your brain time to refresh and the ability to get the assignment or project done more quickly.

For additional ADHD Tips…

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