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Improving Attention in People with ADHD

written by: Sharon Dominica • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 4/22/2011

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. This article focuses on a number of effective strategies that can be used to improve the attention and focus of a person with ADHD.

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    Inattention refers to decreased attention skills that interfere with the ability to complete daily activities. People with ADHD struggle with school and work as well as leisure and social life. At school they make careless mistakes, forget homework and assignments, and often fail to follow instructions. At work they don’t keep deadlines, make mistakes and find it difficult to complete tasks. They get easily distracted by things happening around them. They find it difficult to master sports and other games because of their lack of concentration. Even in social relationships, they find it difficult to listen and respond to people they are close to.

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    Inattention Strategies to Improve Attention

    Practical strategies can go a long way to help people with inattention to work and learn more effectively. Here are some ideas that can be used at home, school or the workplace.

    Modifying the Environment: Most of us easily block out sounds and other activities happening in the background when we are concentrating on a task. However, this is very difficult for people with ADHD. Background noises and people moving around make it very difficult for them to concentrate on a task. A few adaptations in the environment can make this easier. Place the table of a person with ADHD against the wall so that they are facing the wall while they work. Similarly, ensure that they are not near a door or window. Provide earplugs that they can use while doing individual work like reading or writing. Eliminate background noises as much as possible. These simple modifications can make it possible for a person with ADHD to concentrate.

    Structuring the Day: Structure and routine make it easier for people with attention deficits to complete all the tasks that they are supposed to do. Make a schedule and put it up so that the person with ADHD can see it and follow it during the day. Use timers or phone reminders to help the person remember when they have to carry out important activities. Allowing time for physical activity and breaks between tasks helps them to be more effective.

    Modifying the tasks: Tasks too can be modified to help people with inattention to succeed in them. Breaking up tasks into smaller steps and getting one step completed at a time helps the person to get the job done. At school or work, people with inattention should not be given activities that require multi tasking, as this often results in them not getting anything done.

    Organization: Disorganization is often the main cause for forgotten deadlines and tasks. Help the person with ADHD to get into the habit of using diaries and reminders. Help them to organize their space so that they know where all their things are and show them how to make checklists for regular activities that have multiple steps or components.

    Adapting Teaching Strategies: People with ADHD learn best when taught using multiple senses and hands on activities and this should be kept in mind while teaching new concepts. At work, instructions must be given in both oral and written form so that the person can follow and remember them. Similarly in school, a number of activities must be done to reinforce concepts that are taught verbally.

    Thus these are some inattention strategies that can be used in ADHD. Hope these ideas were useful for you.

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    CHADD. (2004). ADHD Predominantly Inattentive Type. Retrieved from Help 4 ADHD:

    Jocelyn Block, M. S. (2010). ADD / ADHD and School. Retrieved from Help

    Kerns, K. A. (1999). Investigation of a Direct Intervention for Improving Attention in Young Children with ADHD. Developmental Neuropsychology , 273–295.