John Berkowitz, LCSW and associates - Psychotherapist
Family Healing Center - Livingston & Teaneck, NJ
An interview with people suffering (or their teachers) from ADD
With John Berkowitz
Interview with a teacher:
John Berkowitz: What is the first thing you notice about a student with ADHD?
Marian: Well I'd have to say the fact that they always seem to be very distant. I struggle to maintain their attention and it's very difficult to keep them on task.
John Berkowitz: Do they tend to struggle in class and with grades?
Marian: The kids with medication seem to have been able to adjust well but it seems at times it is very easy for them to lose focus. You can definitely distinguish between the medicated and non-medicated children.
John Berkowitz: How so?
Marian: They are actually able to sit in their seats without moving around. They are able to maintain focus on me. When we do silent work, they can sit there and work calmly while the non-medicated students tend to look around the room, tap their fingers, or disrupt others.
John Berkowitz: What kind of teaching strategies do you use when dealing specifically with the students with ADHD?
Marian: Well first of all I have met with or tried to meet with all of the parents. They have weekly progress reports sent home to monitor their work and grades in class. I try to set aside time each day so if needed they can come to me with any important questions. I try to keep them involved in the lesson plan so i can maintain their attention. And when possible, i try not to let them stray towards the back of the classroom. The hardest part is to keep their attention on me and the material though. Once i have that, the learning just seems to fall right into place.
The following is an interview with a college student diagnosed with ADD. He is in his third year at University.
John Berkowitz: How long have you been diagnosed with ADD?
Joseph: I was first diagnosed with ADD when I was in sixth grade.
John Berkowitz: Who first noticed you had a problem?
Joseph: Well I had been struggling in school. I was having problems finishing my work and found it especially difficult to concentrate. After numerous notes home my parents set up a meeting with a doctor. After undergoing many observations and many behavioral tests through multiple visits I was diagnosed with ADD and immediately subscribed Ritalin.
John Berkowitz: How long have you been taking medication for it?
Joseph: I began taking Ritalin shortly after. I took it regularly all through school until my senior year in high school. Senior year I began taking it as needed. For example, when I knew i was going to have a quiz or test or if I needed to study at home.
John Berkowitz: Now to your knowledge, what is Ritalin?
Joseph: Ritalin is a mild stimulant used to help me focus. There is a short release and a long release type. The short release lasts for 2-3 hours and the long release could last up to about 10 hours.
John Berkowitz: When would you take the short release and when would you take the long release?
Joseph: I would always take the long release when I was in grade school, middle school, and high school. Now that I'm in college I take my Ritalin only when I have tests or quizzes or when I know I'm going to need to focus like if I have to read something long or do some lengthy studying. And unless it is going to be a long study session I try to only take the short release.
John Berkowitz: What is the most significant difference you have noticed when taking Ritalin?
Joseph: When I am on Ritalin it is like night and day. Normally I would have trouble reading something or trying to do homework. When I take my Ritalin it almost seems like it gives me motivation and I seem to have an interest in my work. I get it done much more quickly and don't have to go over it three or four times to take it in.
John Berkowitz: Did you ever receive any behavioral treatments or programs?
Joseph: When I was in elementary school I was placed in a once a day program with the "slower" kids. We would meet in a room before lunch every day and go over our work and get help from our tutors. I really didn't like it and fortunately that was my first and last time into that room. I really just didn't want to be given that negative stigma if you know what i mean. I mean, once I got on my medication, most of my teachers didn't even know I had ADD and that is the way I liked it. I didn't want to be treated any differently. Outside of my pill mixed with the rest of my vitamins every morning, I wasn't any different, ya know?
John Berkowitz: Where do you think you'd be without Ritalin or any other ADD medications?
Joseph: Probably struggling in a community college somewhere. Definitely not at University, on track to graduate in four years. I am very thankful for Ritalin and all the research gone into the ADD field. I owe a lot of my academic accomplishments to the available and useful medications I have received.
content © John Berkowitz 2015