Learning and ADHD: The Value of Learning Strength

In the legal realm, ADHD is not considered an official disability. Yet, unless an individual learns the unique ways they are wired to learn best, the process of learning can be quite disabling!  The fact is that up to 50% of children and adolescents with ADHD will also have a coexisting learning disability. It can be quite a challenge to tease all that out. So, we leave that to the professionals trained to do so!  In fact, we highly recommend children and adolescents who are diagnosed with ADHD seek professional help and complete a thorough neuropsychological evaluation to help uncover the hidden factors that contribute to their symptoms.

It is tempting to make conclusions about an individual’s character and attitudes when evaluating difficulties with learning just from the symptoms and behaviors seen on the surface.  We have seen it happen many times over and call it character sabotage.  The result of character sabotage is a discouraged and defeated child or adolescent who may give up or protect themselves by not pursuing their dreams and full potential.

The antidote is to dig deeper and begin to uncover the unique ways an individual is wired to learn their best. The best place to begin is with learning strengths. The more you rely on learning strengths, the easier learning becomes!  In fact, you can even leverage learning strengths to help offset and bridge the gaps and build the skills to counter ADHD symptoms and executive function skill deficits. Creating a profile of learning strengths serves as a guide for the best approaches.

Learning Strengths Profile:

Strengths come from many places and there are many ways to assess.

With strengths, we might consider IQ (intelligence quotient) and EQ (emotional quotient).
In short, IQ involves our abilities to acquire knowledge, utilize visual and spatial processing, memory, as well as fluid and quantitative reasoning. EQ involves understanding and regulating our emotions as well as having the ability to perceive and relate to other’s emotions. There are plenty of individuals with ADHD who possess high IQs and lower EQs. It is well known you can have a high IQ, but if you have a low EQ, you will struggle. In fact, research by thought leaders such as Daniel Goleman, John Mayer, and Peter Salovey weighs in on EQ being just as important, if not more.

Tip:  It is important to observe a child’s or adolescent’s abilities around emotional regulation and provide them with coaching and/or counseling and opportunities to bridge the gaps and build new skills when emotional regulation is a challenge.

Values and Character traits serve as strengths in our learning.
There are many ways to assess Values and Character traits as strengths. You could use StrengthsFinder or 16Personalities.com. Our favorite is the VIA Strengths Assessment, which provides you with your top, middle and lower strengths. Each provides insight to assess your results. Or, you may want to pair up with a trained and experienced ADHD Coach at our Center to help you learn more about them and integrate their use in the coming school year. The opportunity to increase traction with learning, be happy and feel more fulfilled begins when an individual understands and leverages their values and character strengths versus just dwelling on weaknesses.

Tip:  Identify a child’s or adolescent’s top values and character traits and help them begin to approach their priorities from that perspective.  

Areas of Natural Intelligence and best learning approaches.
Our favorite here is the research of Psychologist, Dr. Howard Gardner and his theory of Multiple Intelligences. His research focuses on 9 areas of natural intelligence. The areas of natural intelligence include Naturalist (Nature Smart), Musical (Music Smart) Logical-Mathematical (Numbers and Reasoning Smart), Existential (Why Smart), Interpersonal (People Smart), Bodily-Kinesthetic (Body Smart), Linguistic (Word Smart), Intrapersonal (Self Smart), and Visual-Spatial (Picture Smart). Most individuals will have at least two or three stronger areas of natural intelligence. It’s these areas of natural intelligence that provide clues and insight on their best learning approaches.

Tip:  Identify your top areas of natural intelligence and how that informs your best learning approaches.  

ADHD and Executive Function Skills Coaches begin from a place of strengths.  Our coaches will leverage these approaches to support a client’s learning profile to their advantage.  As the kick-off to the school year begins, consider the option of working with our coaches for your support.  Each of our coaches offers a complimentary get-acquainted session.

Be sure to check out our ADHD Workshops for Teens and Tweens starting next week.

Robin Nordmeyer, PCAC CLC

Robin Nordmeyer, PCAC, CLC

ADHD Coach and Life Coach, Executive Skills Coach, Owner/Founder

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