• Dr. Bill Hoekstra

ADHD, Kids, and Zoom School Classrooms

This is an interesting article from the BBC. While technology is a huge asset to students and families during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that there are students, such as those with ADHD and other disabilities, who are "left behind" in terms of school success. This is also true for adults diagnosed with ADHD in their respective work settings. The article follows:

The Zoom teleconference room has become the new classroom for students across the United States due to the coronavirus pandemic. Zoom comes with a new set of challenges for students, teachers and employees who use it. Zoom video calls can leave people more exhausted than the traditional classroom because video conference calls require more energy and focus to effectively communicate than face-to-face meetings. For people with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Zoom calls can be even more draining. “It’s been hell and I’ve felt like I learned nothing,” said Theo Scheiner, a freshman biology major with ADHD. Scheiner expressed that now that his classes do not meet in person, he has no motivation. “It’s really hard to stay focused when you’re not face-to-face,” said Amanda Larsen, a freshman music major with ADD. “For me, knowing that I can pretty much do whatever as long as my camera is off is a big problem when it comes to staying focused.” Rather than looking at just a whiteboard and a teacher, as they would in a traditional classroom, students in Zoom classes must watch their classmates and themselves on camera as well. This extra visual and audio input over Zoom serves as a greater distraction for some. “Even with the camera on, I can’t even pay attention to the class content because everyone is doing something else on their camera,” said Vanessa DeRosso, a freshman music major with ADHD. Larsen said other students’ noises, movements, and customizable backgrounds are all distractions. “It’s helpful for me to keep the Zoom [call] in speaker mode so I can only see the professor talking instead of everyone else’s camera,” she said. Gabriel Abrams, a psychiatric nursing student at East Tennessee State University, completely understands these struggles. “Those with ADHD may have more trouble focusing for long periods of time on the computer because they may get exhausted quicker or be easily distracted by their environment,” Abrams said. Abrams also said all college professors should offer extra time for students with ADD and ADHD. “I believe professors could grant more time on assignments [and] finals for students with ADHD or learning disabilities in general,” DeRosso said. Larsen would like to see professors do away with timed tests altogether for students with ADD and ADHD over Zoom. “It’s so much harder to effectively budget my time when I am not physically in a classroom,” she said. In lieu of timed tests, Larsen suggested professors assign alternative assignments such as essays that can be written without a time limit.

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