Sitting through class can be tough for anyone, but it can be a particular challenge for students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Arshia Ebrahimi, a limited licensed psychologist at the Central Michigan University counseling center, said ADHD is primarily an issue with focusing and hyperactivity, or a combination of both.
“Students struggle with attention not only in school but across their whole life,” Ebrahimi said.
Susie Rood, director of Student Disability Services, said the number of CMU students with ADHD has increased 30 percent in the last seven years. Rood attributed this growth to the increase of awareness of the disorders and students interested in going to college.
Among the 115 students at CMU with ADHD as their primary disability, many like Clarkston freshman Nate Austin feel the effects more in college because it has less structure.
“It’s harder to deal with in college because, unlike high school, I don’t have a straight shot of classes all day,” Austin said. “When I don’t take my medicine I feel a lot more tired and have a lack of motivation.”
Having ADHD is not just about experiencing symptoms, Ebrahimi said, but how those symptoms cause major life barriers.
Shelby Township freshman Lucas Thomas said he feels he is especially affected by the disorder when he does his homework.
“Every time I sit down to study, I can’t even read one page usually without looking around the room or grabbing my iPod to play with,” Thomas said.
CMU’s student disability center offers help for those with ADHD.
“Our most common service available to students is offering a lower-distraction place for students to take tests,” Rood said. “We also suggest bringing a tape recorder to class and then listening to the recording while studying.”
Ebrahimi also recommends different approaches for a more focused future.
“Caffeine intake should be monitored because it can mimic ADHD with the difficulty concentrating and no attention control,” Ebrahimi said.
Students should also develop strong sleep hygiene, or habits, and exercise routines for combating restless energy.
Learning to manage outside anxiety and stress is key because high emotions can make tasks even more challenging and symptoms more prevalent, Ebrahimi said.
“Medication as treatment is usually a last resort method, or added to counseling if therapy alone doesn’t work,” Ebrahimi said.
The Counseling Center Facebook page offers quick tips and strategies for students suffering from ADHD. Ebrahimi also recommends reading “the bible of ADHD,” “Driven to Distraction” by Edward M. Hallowel.
“Students shouldn’t hesitate to come into the school counseling office if they feel like they are having symptoms of ADHD,” Ebrahimi said. “Even an hour consultation can help.”