Struggling with procrastination and time management is something almost all college students can relate to. But often times students who struggle with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have an even more difficult time with time management or organization. College can be a challenge for students who have ADHD, but groups like Find Your Focus on campus are making huge strides to help students with ADHD learn the skills and practices to exceed in school.
Dr. Karin Arizala, a staff psychologist at counseling services, runs the Find Your Focus group, which meets once a week for about five to six weeks and helps students with ADHD build skills and set concrete goals to help improve their school performance.
“We meet on the first day and people talk about their challenges, and then one thing I do is I try to set really specific concrete goals and we check in at the following week and see how they made progress on those goals,” said Arizala. “So maybe it’s reworking their schedule so they make sure to have an hour of study time at their best time of the day, and over the course of the next several weeks we check in about how it’s going for them.”
The group isn’t the only place on campus students with ADHD can go to get help and support. The Academic Skills center located in the Mudd Learning Center is another resource on campus for students who struggle with ADHD or any other form of learning disability.
“The Academic Skills center, with Pam Schwartz and her staff I would say is the main resource for students who have ADHD or other learning disabilities,” said Arizala. “We work closely with them to make sure students are getting what they need.”
The group dynamic of Find Your Focus is a huge contributing factor to how successful the group is. Because students are encouraged to share their struggles and the different techniques they’ve used, they can often swap ideas and share tricks they’ve learned. The students benefit from being in a group of their peers with the same struggles they’ve experienced, and often times they learn a lot from each other.
Another important goal of the group, according to Arizala, is to break down some of the stereotypes surrounding ADHD.
“A lot of people assume that those with ADHD can’t focus when many have hyper focus when they get really into what they’re doing and that’s one of their strengths and great qualities and they’re really passionate and really motivated,” said Arizala. “But that might mean they forget their assignment in a classroom or they leave something at the library.”
Arizala tries to help the students she works with understand that ADHD is not a completely negative thing. She believes there are definite benefits to this learning style, and she tries to help the students in her group see that as well.
“One of my main pieces of advice is to see [ADHD] as both a positive thing as well as recognizing the challenges,” said Arizala. “I think one of the things that’s too bad is that people see it as a negative thing and focus on the difficult parts when there really are a lot of cool things about having this different kind of learning style. Like having a lot of energy having a lot of ideas, that hyper focus and passion, those are things that can benefit people in their academic career and professional life. Really figuring those things out for them and celebrating them can help them cope with the difficulties. And then figuring out your challenges and knowing you can work on it and build those skills, and that it just takes practice and guidance.”
Whether it’s the Find Your Focus group or the Academic Skills Center, Albion has plenty of resources for students who struggle with ADHD, and can help them thrive in the college environment. Even if it’s just helpful to talk to a group of your peers with the same issues, or figuring out a new schedule to best utilize your time, there are ways to build the skills to help cope with the challenges of ADHD.
If you’re interested in the Find Your Focus group you can contact Dr. Arizala at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Emily Miller