The challenge of developing math skills for ADHD

Mathematics is something you use every day, many times without even realizing it. You are using math skills when you are calculating travel time, calculating the correct change, budgeting expenses, or measuring cooking ingredients. However, for many children and adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), solving math problems can be a particularly frustrating process.

Compared with the general student population, students with ADHD tend to have a higher rate of learning disabilities in mathematics.Even those ADHD students who are not eligible for math disability may still be terrible in math. Although these challenges may first appear during the school year, they will certainly continue and affect mathematical ability even into adulthood.

Mathematics and ADHD

Mastering mathematics is a complicated process. Failures in the learning process can occur in multiple areas, including memory, attention, problem solving, and organizational skills-all of these areas are challenging for students with ADHD. In the early stages of learning, students must understand the number and its correspondence with numbers. Students must also memorize simple mathematical facts, rules and vocabulary before they can quickly recall the learned facts from memory.

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Mathematics is highly cumulative. The student conducts follow-up learning on the basis of what he or she has previously learned. As mathematical tasks become more and more complex, a strong mathematical foundation is necessary. You might think that learning mathematical concepts is similar to stacking blocks-each bottom block (or mathematical concept) supports the following blocks. When the foundation is weak, the entire construction process is in danger.

Working memory impairment

As mathematical tasks become more and more complex, students must be able to recognize patterns and automatically recall mathematical facts and rules to quickly solve the steps in the problem. Working memory impairment (common in students with ADHD) can hinder students’ ability to do this. The shortcomings of working memory make it difficult for students to keep information in mind and keep track of the multiple steps involved in many mathematical calculations.

stay tuned

Learning mathematics requires continuous attention to remember the facts and the sequence of steps, while self-monitoring and checking the answers. This can be difficult for ADHD students with inattention, and it is easy to get lost or get entangled in multiple elements of a math problem.

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Attention problems can also hinder students’ speed in performing mathematical calculations, organizing irrelevant information, and following multi-step procedures. For students with ADHD who are often slow in processing, problem solving may require a lot of energy, and it will definitely affect the ability to solve math problems.

Students need certain skills to solve math problems accurately, including:

  • Attention to detail
  • Plan methodically
  • Remember and follow the instructions

Impulsive decision-making, hurried problem-solving steps, and even poor coordination of fine movements that affect handwriting can all lead to careless mistakes and mistakes.

Teacher’s perspective

Chris Dendy is a leading ADHD expert and a former teacher. He has more than 35 years of experience working with ADHD students. He explained in detail why mathematics often causes problems for these students.

“Since learning is relatively easy for most of us, sometimes we forget how complicated seemingly simple tasks are, such as memorizing multiplication tables or solving math problems. For example, when a student solves a math problem, he must be fluent Move to switch back and forth between analytical skills and multiple levels of memory (work, short-term and long-term memory).

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“For word problems, he must keep in mind a few numbers and questions when deciding how to solve the problem. Next, he must study long-term memory in depth to find the correct mathematical rules for solving the problem. Then he must keep in mind that it is important when he applies the rules and When switching information back and forth between working memory and short-term memory to solve problems and determine answers, he keeps facts in mind.”


The challenge of developing math skills for ADHD
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