ADD, ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorder are all learning disabilities that pertain to behavior and the mind’s ability to focus on a specific thing for a large amount of time. It can be extremely difficult to assist these students in schoolwork, but not impossible. Here are some tips and tricks for best-accommodating students with ADD, ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

Attention Deficit Disorder

ADD, or “Attention Deficit Disorder”, is a disorder that affects a person’s ability to focus on something for a long period of time. This also causes them to be unable to sit still for more than a few minutes and triggers fidgety habits. Another symptom of ADD is impulsivity. A student with this disorder might blurt out whatever they’re thinking without giving it a second thought. The key to tutoring these students is to be patient, try not to rush them through their work. It might take them a bit longer, but encourage them to go at their own pace. Work on one small task at a time so you don’t overwhelm the student. Allow frequent breaks for the student to stand up, stretch or get a snack. 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

ADHD, or “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder”, is similar to ADD. Like ADD, people with ADHD have a hard time focusing and struggle with sitting still. Unlike ADD, this disorder has more to do with hyperactivity. Students with this tend to not be able to sit for long periods of time, are overly talkative and are extremely restless. Similar to tutoring a student with ADD, allow students with ADHD frequent breaks to stand up and walk around. ADHD is more severe because students have extreme difficulty remaining seated and staying relaxed. Remove all disturbances from the room and make sure the student is sitting in an area that has minimal distractions. Try and reduce the workload on the student and give extremely simplified instruction. 

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder, or simply Autism, is a disorder where students might not have the same emotional and social connections as students without the disorder. Eye contact and changes in facial expression can be rare. This can lead to very little social interaction and produce high anxiety in autistic individuals. Start by observing how the student learns. Most people with autism learn better visually, so create lots of visuals for lessons, schedules, and instructions. If possible, try to connect with the student’s parent or guardian for additional guidance into their disorder.

Students with these types of learning disabilities pose special challenges in helping them succeed. But, with the right approach, these students can experience academic achievements they might once have thought impossible. Just remember to use a lot of patience and a soft approach and you’ll see them grow before your very eyes.

For information about tutoring students with dyslexia, dyscalculia or other processing disabilities, visit part 2 of this series.