There are several math aids available for students that have ADHD. Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurobiological behavioral-based disorder that is characterized by chronic and and developmentally inappropriate levels of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. This disorder originates from structural and neurochemical differences within the Central Nervous System of the body. This physiological-based disorder interferes with an individual’s ability to sustain attention to tasks and regulate their behaviors. Children are the group of people most often diagnosed with this condition. A child that suffers from ADHD will display a high level of variability and varying degrees of inconsistency when it comes to performance and productivity. This is especially true when it comes to math.

1.     Math and ADHD – Developing a Support System
According to statistics, kids with ADHD have significantly lower achievement scores in math than their peers who have not been diagnosed with the condition. Therefore, the first and most important math aid for kids with ADHD is support from their family, teachers, and peers in understanding that math is a complex subject that will prove to be exceptionally difficult. In order to truly act as a math aid/supporter of your child, you should understand why ADHD kids have problems with this particular subject. The following outlines the most common reasons, to date, based on numerous studies:

  • Many children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder find it very difficult to solve problems in a systematic manner.
  • It is hard for many kids with ADHD to make a decision; therefore, many will face problems in trying to decide which math strategy should be used on different types of problems.
  • It is common for children that have been diagnosed with ADHD to remember details about information that they have learned at an earlier time. Math is considered to be a cumulative subject and, in most instances, the knowledge obtained previously is required to understand current and future math-related subjects.
  • If an ADHD child experiences problems with language, many will find it challenging to read and understand math instructions and word problems.

2.     Utilizing Math Manipulatives
Math aids that are considered to be highly beneficial for children with ADHD are math manipulatives. These are specially-designed objects that are used for the purpose and intent of perceiving specific math concepts through the hands-on approach of manipulation. Certain concepts that are considered to be very challenging to kids with ADHD – measurements, statistics, geometry, and more – may be easily and successfully comprehended by a child that uses math manipulatives to learn these concepts. According to professionals, math manipulatives offer the following advantages to kids that have ADHD:

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  • Math manipulatives are designed in such a way that they assist in making the abstract concepts introduced in mathematics concrete and easy to understand. By encouraging a child with this attention-deficit disorder to use manipulatives, they may create physical-based models of challenging abstract math ideas.
  • Math is often taught from the pages of a textbook. Reading and working from a book are often challenging issues for a child who has problems focusing and controlling themselves. Math manipulatives help transform the information in a book to something realistic and exciting. These math aids help in constructing a solid understanding of the ideas that they are presented with in math and then aids in connecting those ideas to the symbols and vocabulary associated with the subject. Plus, ADHD kids love to move and work with their hands. Manipulatives provide them with the ability to do both!
  • Finally, math manipulatives are considered to be an excellent way for ADHD kids to test and to confirm their way of reasoning as it relates to solving math problems. If a student is able to explain, in their own way, how the problem is solved by using manipulatives, it provides an instant boost to their self-confidence and makes them want to learn more!

In Conclusion
Thank you for reading the first installment of our series, “Math Aids for Students with ADHD”. This week, you have learned that Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurobiological condition that results from differences in the Central Nervous System of the body. We also introduced you to two very effective math aids for children that suffer from this disorder. The first was a support system that understands why math is so challenging. The second math aid that was outlined was math manipulatives. Be sure to come back next week for the conclusion to this series where you will learn about two more highly productive math aids for kids with ADHD.