Today on the Eduspot blog, we’re joined by Yon, a freelance comic and concept artist who regularly discusses the challenges of living with ADHD on social media. Check them out on Twitter here.
Comment below to let us know your thoughts on the questions and Yon’s responses! Without further ado, here is the interview:
Well, the name “ADHD” in itself is already a little misleading. It’s not that we have a ‘deficit’ of attention! It’s more that we can’t control where that attention goes. As far as I know, the general stereotype for ADHD are often hyperactive children. In fact, before I was diagnosed with it myself, my own understanding of ADHD was extremely limited and I never imagined that it was something I was struggling with. I had the same assumptions about ADHD as being a condition for hyperactive children. ADHD sufferrers in media are often portrayed as such so that was what I assumed it was until I actually researched what it entailed! So no, I don’t believe that it’s a fair
Personally, one of the biggest challenges associated with ADHD has been executive dysfunction. Executive Functions are skills that involve planning and organization, controlling emotions and behaviour, remembering details, time management and a quite a few other important things. To the outside person, Executive Dysfunction looks a lot like demotivation, laziness or carelessness when actually it’s all of the above mentioned skills just not working. Simple tasks such as answering emails or performing basic chores become incredibly difficult and often cause more anxiety and stress. I could look like I’m lying on my bed, ignoring an email I really need to answer, but internally I’m trying to work myself up to the task of actually doing it while my anxiety simmers in the back, reminding me how important it is…
One thing that had always helped me in my classes was when a teacher would sit down and personally help me through the areas I had trouble with after the class. The engagement and discussion between the teacher after that class would reinforce what I had heard or learned and would help me keep my focus on the work in front of me instead of being driven to distraction in a classroom setting. Allowing them to use non disruptive fidget toys or allowing them to doodle in class can sometimes help too! (I was often reprimanded in class for drawing while the teacher was teaching, but I needed to DO something while listening or else I would lose my mind, haha!)
Writing out numbered, specific and clear instructions for homework or tasks. I would often completely miss specific things in my work or just forget and give up entirely on whole tasks because I simply could NOT follow what the teacher was saying, fast enough to write it down. It was AWFUL! Seating them away from windows, doors or the back of the classroom. Windows and doors can cause distractions or encourage daydreaming (i know it sure did for me) Using more visual methods of teaching such as charts, pictures, colour coding and the like! I could go on for a lot longer, ADHD effects so many areas of cognitive function! But I believe that most important of all would be patience and understanding. There were times in my school life where I genuinely wanted to keep up with a class and make a teacher proud and prove to them that I was more than a lazy student, but this was before any of us knew ADHD even existed let alone have any understanding of why I behaved in a specific way.
Using a visual timer with alarms can help with understanding how much time there is left to finish a task or assignment or to remind them or something they may have missed. Having a visual timer we can see helps with understanding how much time we have left since we suffer from time blindness. A simple to-do list on a tablet or homework briefs on a tablet would already be a massive help in organisation. I remember losing entire worksheets and homework sheets in the abyss of my bag only to find them half a year later. Crumpled and squashed at the bottom… Electronic Calenders can serve as a timeline where you can list important deadlines or turn in dates, events and the like. It helps with visualising what’s ahead or what should come first as well as putting into context how much time is left for a specific thing.
I’m a freelance concept and comic artist, but I draw ADHD awareness comics in my spare time or when inspiration strikes! A lot of the stuff I draw and talk about concerning ADHD is stuff that I’ve learnt through my own understanding and research to better understand why I function the way I do. So I’m in no way an expert or a professional, haha! I just hope that I can raise awareness and understanding about what ADHD actually is through my comics.