Jimmy has trouble sitting still, struggles to complete tasks on time, and is easily distracted. He always has three or four activities going on at once. He describes himself as a ‘very fast race car with no brakes’.
Poor inhibition is a central feature in those with ADHD. Inhibition is the ability to control impulsive behavior, thoughts, and speech. Inhibition is closely related to a cognitive skill called Executive Function, which helps plan, manage, and control behavior.
Students with ADHD, like Jimmy, not only have trouble sitting still but often act out. Teachers usually comment that their classroom performance is poor and they forget important information, the right books for their classes, or where they need to be.
ADHD & WORKING MEMORY
One of the most consistent findings in research studies is that students with ADHD have poor working memory, particularly when they have to remember visual information, such as graphs or images.
This has serious impact on their learning. As a result of poor working memory, students with ADHD struggle in all areas of learning. They also find it difficult to cope with simple tasks in the classroom, such as following instructions, keeping track of where they need to be, and remembering to do their homework.
This doesn’t mean that all children with poor working memory have ADHD.
In fact, as part of a different government-funded project, I found that children with poor working memory (without ADHD) are NOT impulsive or hyperactive.
They aren’t disrupting the class so the teacher may not notice that there is a problem. At least not until it’s too late. Not until they start struggling in the classroom because they haven’t grasped key concepts in the lesson.
Ultimately, both students with ADHD and those with poor working memory need learning support to excel. By training their working memory, we can help them make sense of what goes on in the classroom.
WORKING MEMORY TRAINING
There is exciting research that training working memory in children with ADHD can improve their working memory, IQ, and attention. In my own research using a Working Memory training program, Jungle Memory, parents commented that their children were more confident and able to focus better after training.
Teachers reported that the students were more motivated and were able to pay attention in class.
WATCH a clip from Jasmine, a young girl with poor working memory.
MY RESEARCH (FULL LIST)
- Working memory in ADHD: A comparison of British and South African children. Journal of Attention Disorders.
- A comparison of working memory profiles in children with ADHD and DCD. Child Neuropsychology
- Commentary on Effect of osmotic-release oral system methylphenidate on different domains of attention and executive functioning in children with attention-deficit–hyperactivity disorder. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology
- The prevalence of ADHD-like symptoms in a community sample. Journal of Attention Disorders
- Investigating the Relationship Between Attention and Working Memory in Clinical and Community Samples. Child Neuropsychology
- Examining the link between working memory behavior and academic attainment in children with ADHD. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology
- An assessment of the diagnostic utility of executive function assessments in the identification of ADHD in children. Child & Adolescent Mental Health
- The diagnostic utility of behavioral checklists in identifying children with ADHD and children with working memory deficits. Child Psychiatry & Human Development
- Attentional and executive function behaviors in children with poor working memory. Learning and Individual Differences
- Working memory profiles of children with developmental disorders. Journal of Learning Disabilities
- Working memory deficits in neurodevelopmental disorders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry