In presentations at The Cove School last week, Clinical Neuropsychologist Dr. Jerome Schultz spoke to parents, staff and community members about the ways students with learning disabilities and ADHD can learn to cope with academic stress.
Dr. Schultz visited Cove as part of a free public event for parents and guests on Thursday, January 11, as well as for a presentation to staff and professionals within the learning disability community on Friday, January 12.
Students today are facing greater levels of stress, Dr. Schultz said, as they navigate faster-paced lives, increased academic demands, high-stakes testing and pervasive exposure to media and technology.
In particular, students with learning disabilities and ADHD are often the most vulnerable to academic stress, Dr. Schultz said. Frequently, stress for these students accumulates due to a self-perceived history of failure and frustration in the classroom.
Furthermore, students with learning disabilities often feel stuck at the intersection of the message “I’m sure you can do this,” from teachers and parents and their own feelings of “I know I can’t.”
However, Dr. Schultz said parents and teachers can help these students by showing them ways to assess the difficulty level of a task, breaking down “impossible” problems into more manageable expectations.
Adults can remind students of the tools they possess that would move the stress of a given problem or assignment to a more manageable level. Moreover, just as students may obsess over perceived failures, reminding them of past successes can provide motivation to obtain that feeling again.
A former special education teacher, Dr. Schultz holds a faculty position at Harvard Medical School and is a Research Study Coordinator in the BabyBOLD/Gaab Lab-Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience at Boston Children’s Hospital.
He is the author of Nowhere to Hide: Why Kids with ADHD and LD Hate School and What We Can Do About It, in addition to writing a blog for the Huffington Post.
Along with Dr. Schultz, The Cove School welcomed representatives from the Learning Disabilities Association of Illinois, who provided educational resources for parents and students, including membership information. Visit their website here.