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BellaOnline's Attention Deficit Disorder Editor

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Improving Concentration for ADD


Having better focus at school with Attention Deficit Disorder is not just a matter of sitting at a desk, staring at the teacher, and repeating in your head, "Focus, focus, gotta concentrate on this." It's a process that starts in the home, and then continues at the school. These strategies to cultivate focus encompass many areas of your family's life. Here are some research-based steps to help you and yours along the path to better concentration with ADD.

Nutrition-There has been anecdotal evidence for years that some people with Attention Deficit Disorder have major difficulties when they eat processed foods. Experts pooh-poohed that, and there was talk of "old wives' tales." Well, those smart old grannies had it right for some folks with ADD. Research showed that both sodium benzoate and food dyes increase hyperactivity in some children with ADD. A diet that is as free as possible of food coloring and preservatives should have a better effect on concentration than a diet that promotes hyperactivity.

Exercise in green spaces-Research conducted at the University of Illinois at Urbana examined the effects of kids with ADD playing in open, green spaces. They found that the negative symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder were lessened when the children played in wide open spaces. Concentration and impulsivity improved. Find that open green space near your home and visit often.

Eliminate or moderate distractions at home--Keep your electronic use for recreation to a minimum. Turn off the television or plan the family's TV viewing. Limit video/computer games and cruising around on the computers. Plan to have several weeks of tough times. Nobody will like this at first. Then, things will get better.

Plan homework to lower anxiety-Have a set time to do homework. As much as possible, make it fun and interesting. You will definitely want to buy the book AD/HD Homework Challenges Transformed! by Harriet Hope Green. This book is totally engaging and has some very original ideas to help lower the stress of homework completion. It's extremely practical. If homework is a major conflict, consider hiring a tutor.

Sleep-A lack of sleep is difficult for anybody, but for people with ADD, not getting enough sleep is devastating. Develop a sleep routine. Practice good sleep hygiene.

Intense exercise before school-Intense exercise bathes the brain in oxygen. There is a positive effect on executive function and concentration, according to research that was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. If you don't walk or bike to school or work, try exercising for 15-20 minutes in the morning. Do the same at midday.

Techniques to improve focus-Do you have trouble just sitting and listening? Use fidgets to focus! A small study released by the University of Central Florida in 2009 found that students with Attention Deficit Disorder were better able to think through and complete complex academic tasks when they were able to move. Movement allowed the students to focus their attention. Students with ADD/ADHD should use movement to keep themselves alert. Learn to fidget discretely.

Eliminate distractors at school -Sit in the area of the room that allows you to focus best. I like to sit in the back and watch everything. When I choose that seat, I am lucky to make an average grade in the class. Those times when I choose a less preferred seat that is at the front of the class, and I don't have a lot to look at, my grades are near the top of the class. This is a case of "choose wisely!"

Enlist the help of the staff-When a student is off-task, a good teacher will have signals that help the student re-focus without embarrassing that student. Both the staff and the student need to agree on the signals and what each will do when the signal is given.

Medication-Take your medication on time and in the prescribed dosage. If it is not working the way that you need it to work, let your doctor know. If your doctor is unwilling to change anything about your medication, find a doctor who will work with you to get it adjusted to an optimal dose.

Caffeine- If you don't take medication, consider adding a small amount of caffeine to your diet. I am not talking about expensive "energy drinks" that have large amounts of coloring and other chemicals. A cup of tea or coffee might help your concentration. V-8 V-Fusion Energy has green tea as its caffeine. It also contains fruit and vegetable juice. This drink comes in several flavors and an easy-to-open can. I do not recommend using soda with caffeine. They usually have artificial dyes, sweetener, or a lot of sugar, none of which improves concentration.

Creating better focus does not happen overnight. Changing the family habits of a lifetime is difficult. However, using these tips as a comprehensive program to acquire better focus should help you build up your ability to concentrate. While the article's focus was on concentration at school, these strategies also apply to the workplace. Below this article are some links to other pieces that expand information that is presented here.


Related links: The Related Links below this article may be of interest to you.

NEWSLETTER: I invite you to subscribe to our free weekly newsletter. This gives you all of the updates to the ADD site. Fill in the blank below the article with your email address - which is never passed on beyond this site. We never sell or trade your personal information.



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Sleep Problems and ADD
AD/HD Homework Challenges Transformed Review
Fidgets Help People with ADD to Focus
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Content copyright © 2014 by Connie Mistler Davidson. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Connie Mistler Davidson. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Connie Mistler Davidson for details.

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