We all know them – kids with ADHD who are bright, energetic, and creative – yet struggle in school. They don’t enjoy learning. They prefer easier work. They give up easily. By all accounts, they lack motivation.
But why? Is it due to a bad attitude? Is it laziness? No, it’s in the wiring!
Is there anything we can do to help?
Studies of kids with ADHD have identified interventions that can increase motivation and enhance school success for kids with ADHD.
Point of Performance Supports: Leveling the Playing Field
Point of performance supports are small changes we can make in a setting or task that can make big differences for kids with ADHD. Such supports might include supplying noise-cancelling headphones, preparing organized work spaces, or providing checklists for complex assignments.
The great thing about point of performance supports is that they can have immediate pay-offs. They can reduce the frustration and increase success for kids with ADHD. However, point of performance supports rely on others to make that success possible. The kids still have the same challenges in unsupported situations. Point of performance supports alone are not enough in the long run.
Meds: Ramping Up the Supply of Dopamine
Stimulant medications have been found to increase the availability of dopamine in the reward circuits of kids with ADHD. This can help them get past the distractions of the moment and work toward future goals, at least during the time the medications are in effect. In the school setting, kids with ADHD tend to improve academic performance when taking appropriate medications. For some kids, booster doses may be needed after school to help them maintain focus and persistence during homework/study time.
Many studies have found ADHD medications to be safe and effective, yet medications are not a panacea. It may take considerable trial-and-error to find the “right” medication. Some kids do not respond well to ADHD medications. Others may find that effectiveness of the medication changes over time. Parents often struggle with decisions about medication.
Behavior Modification: Leveraging the Here and Now
Kids with ADHD seem to be stuck in the present moment. Their need for immediate payoffs makes behavior modification—the carefully planned use of rewards and consequences – a powerful intervention for kids with ADHD. Behavior modification can be helpful in increasing desired behaviors, like time-on-task, and in reducing problem behaviors, like missing assignments.
However, the motivation created by behavior modification may only last as long as rewards are provided. Rewards and consequences are not really effective in helping kids with ADHD develop the kind of long-term, internal motivation that is needed for real academic success.
SO – point-of-performance supports, medication, and behavior modification seem to be helpful for kids with ADHD in specific situations for the short term, but they rely heavily on someone or something outside the kids, and they don’t really promote long-term motivation.
為甚麼會這樣呢？ 是因為他們態度不好？ 還是過於懶惰？不，一切問題都出在大腦迴路上！