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ADHD and Making Skills Stick

Skills are vital to success and learning is impacted by the many variables associated with the learning experience we are exposed to, how we learn and how we retain the information and/or new skills.

The challenges associated with ADHD can add extra complications, for example, low self-esteem can affect confidence when approaching learning a new skill, struggling to focus on a single task for an extended period of time could lead to boredom, losing interest in the middle of a task because our attention is attracted to something else, and becoming discouraged because the effort we put in often does not seem to meet the rewards we believe we have worked for.

It sometimes seems harder for someone who has ADHD to learn new skills and to make them stick, however, our brains may work faster on some tasks, and we may solve non-linear problems more easily, have creative conversations, and catch on to new ideas quickly.

Everyone with ADHD is unique and will experience different challenges in different ways when it comes to learning new skills. We have curated some of the more generally helpful ideas for you.

Physical activity improves focus and executive functioning skills, so consider learning new skills or studying right after gym, sport or going for a walk.

We may need to quiet our minds into the right place for learning and retaining new skills. This can be done through yoga, reading, engaging in a hobby or spending quality time with friends and family.

It is important to prioritise sleep, diet, self-care and manage our health issues as impulsivity worsens when we are not rested. Distractions can then be more alluring and more of a barrier to learning and acquiring skills.

Knowing that everyone learns differently is helpful, so leave yourself enough time to work through the material rather than rushing to get it done quickly.

Learning is about getting information into long term memory so be kind to yourself and acknowledge that ADHD is complex. Keeping positive will help you harness your ADHD advantages and allow you to recognise your wins along the way. Set small achievable goals and try to find alternative fun ways to reinforce the information, possibly drawing cartoons or watching related educational videos. Skills build with repetition; mistakes are an opportunity to fine tune your new skill.

It also helps to set up a support group of people who understand what challenges you are facing and being able to ask them for help.

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