If your classrooms have children with ADD, chances are they are also visual learners. In fact, there’s about a 99% chance they’re visual learners. So why does it matter? Kids that have an ADD or ADHD diagnosis have been struggling in the classroom. Once there is a treatment plan in place, you’re expecting they’re going to settle down and be focused enough to do well in the classroom. But instead they go back to classroom and struggle more. This is hugely discouraging for kids, parents and teachers and leads to even more conversations on what else is wrong with these kids. But it’s not about the kid. It’s because they’re visual learners and there are a few more pieces of the puzzle that need to be considered.
Let me explain. Kids with ADHD are disorganized, easily distracted and hard to focus. These are the behaviors that got you and your child to the doctor’s office to consider the possibility of ADHD. But they’re not the only kids with those same behaviors. Visual learners are also disorganized, easily distracted, and have a hard time focusing. Kids with ADHD are creative, impulsive and crave constant stimulation. Visual learners are creative, impulsive and crave constant stimulation. This is good news! Even though an ADHD diagnosis might not seem like a good thing at first, when we realize these kids are visual learners first, there’s a new kind of hope. Knowing they’re visual learners gives us a much better understanding of who they are, how their brain works and what we can do to help. There is so much we can do to help.
What’s going on? Kids with ADHD and visual learners are thinking and processing the world through the right side of their brain. The right and left side work together but operate very differently. Knowing how the right side of the brain operates explains much of ADHD behavior and challenges, but it also reminds us of their strengths. And since an ADHD diagnosis is focused on deficits, we need to learn more about the positives. We need to know more about their gifts and strengths.
Visual learners are creative, social, outgoing and good at finding multiple solutions to a problem. They’re also impulsive idea factories, another right brain trait. Since visual kids think in pictures, those idea factories are running a steady stream of catchy, fun exciting pictures and home videos in their minds that create quite the distraction. Our ADHD visual kids aren’t distracted just to be distracted; they’re just having a hard time managing the fun and excitement of what’s happening in their mind especially when it comes time to do more mundane left-brain tasks, like organizing, memorizing, reading and writing. School is very left brain focused. Reading, writing, lecture style learning, memorizing and testing are all skills that require us to use the left side of our brain and it’s pretty dry for our visual kids. But they need to be able to make the shift and use both sides of their mind, but when we see our ADHD kids as visual learners, there are ways we can help them make that shift. At the same time, we need to get schools to teach in ways that will speak more directly to the way our kids think. It’s all about balance.
What now? I’m excited there is so much to share. So many ways we parents and teachers can help these kids develop the skills they need. But for today, I want to encourage you to look at these ADHD kids with new eyes. He or she is a visual learner first and the degree of their struggle to use the left brain or manage what’s happening in the right brain moves them into the ADHD category.
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BetteFetter.com is here to help visual learners navigate their world more successfully. This applies to ADHD kids too. To help you see your child more clearly, download these thoughts on left brain skills versus right skills. To learn more about what it means to be a visual learner, read my book, Being Visual.