Success for Kids with ADHD

Dr. Ned Hallowell is the co-author of Driven to Distraction, a book widely considered to be the ADHD bible for more than two decades. Dr. Hallowell is still championing ADHD awareness and the philosophy that we should emphasize the strengths, rather than the weaknesses, of people with ADHD. Dr. Hallowell  has encouraged thousands of individuals to find their interests and pursue them wholeheartedly.

In my 30 years of experience working with families as a clinical psychologist, I have observed that one of the most common strengths of children is the capacity to focus on and master digital technologies. Over the years I’ve had opportunities to speak with Dr. Hallowell about my thoughts on using digital media and video games as part of a therapeutic approach to ADHD. In the few brief conversations that I had with him at conferences, he seemed to be skeptical; he needed to see the evidence of technology as an effective ADHD treatment. In time, however, he has come to endorse a number of strategies in which technology is used to help kids with ADHD. He is now the spokesperson for Cogmed Working Memory and sells apps for ADHD on his website.

Dr. Hallowell, the author of Driven to Distraction, gives tips for success for kids with ADHD

Dr. Ned Hallowell is the author of what many consider to be the ADHD bible.

It was at Dr. Hallowell’s website, where I was researching the topic of ADHD strengths, that I read something that was extremely insightful that I want to share with our readers. Dr. Hallowell was asked which idea about treating ADHD in the past decade he feels is most important. His response identifies five crucial steps for helping children to achieve “joy, success, lifelong satisfaction.” He notes that these steps are suitable for all children, but particularly those with ADHD.

  1. Connect: This is the most important component. Children should feel connected to their homes, families, schools, and neighborhoods.
  2. Play: Play engages a child’s imagination and helps them become independent learners.
  3. Practice and work: The only way to truly get better at something is to practice it. Those who believe that practice and work are important have a growth mindset. They understand that mistakes are learning opportunities and have healthier attitudes about putting in effort.
  4. Master something: Persistence that results in progress, and eventually mastery, improves self-esteem and enhances the capacity and desire to take on new challenges.
  5. Be recognized: For many children, having someone they care about notice what they have done helps them sustain the effort  required to improve and succeed.

All of these steps are consistent with our views here at LearningWorks for Kids. Connection, play, flexibility, effort, and reward are inextricably linked to the usage of video games and technology.

And technology, not just social media, is one of the easiest ways for 21st-century kids to be connected with their peers. When kids have shared interests and are able to take part in conversations about trends and popular media (take Minecraft for example), the social benefits are invaluable. And of course we believe that play is the most important thing a child can do to gain self-awareness and learn how to learn, and we include digital play in our model of a balanced Play Diet. Flexibility and effort, integral to a growth mindset and necessary for progress toward mastery, are two of the executive functions we talk about the most. As for reward, well, it’s the main reason we believe video games and gamification to be so engaging and effective as teaching tools. When our progress and efforts are recognized, we are more likely to stay interested and try new things.

Thanks to Dr. Hallowell for sharing these great tips for helping kids make the most of their abilities. Success for kids with ADHD is obtainable.


Featured image: Flickr user Startup Stock Photos

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