Flourishing with ADHD in the Language Classroom

October 2023

We previously tackled the concept of Neurodiversity in two back-to-back issues back in 2019, but there’s so much more for us to learn! This month, we’re doing a close examination of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, and explore not only what’s happening in the brains and minds of those with the development disorder, but also discuss techniques and approaches that teachers can take to better help students with ADHD. 

Our cover: “If someone told me I could be normal or continue to have ADD, I would take the ADD.” – David Neeelman, JetBlue Airways founder

Cover photo by Dziana Hasanbekava on Pexels; others from Pixabay &  Unsplash

Watch before you read...

Building on our two issues in 2019 on neurodiversity, we’re taking a deep dive into ADHD in this issue. In the Main video, Jessica McCabe shares with viewers what it’s like to have ADHD. In the Deep podcast episode, Margaret Sibley explains what ADHD is, how it presents in children and adults, and how it can be treated. Heather Kretschmer gets us started by introducing the issue.

In the Think Tank, Lexi Basciano explains what happens in the brains of people who have ADHD and how this impacts behavior. Next, Curtis Kelly and Heather Kretschmer explore ways instructors can help learners with ADHD. Then, Julia Daley delves into how ADHD manifests in girls and women. Finally, Trent Flanigan Jones explains how teachers can support adolescents with ADHD in the classroom.

In the PLUS section, we highlight two video series on managing ADHD by Jessica McCabe and Stephen Tonti.

Margaret Sibley

ADHD among Children and Adults

Our Thoughts on ADHD

Race Cars and Bicycle Brakes Heather Kretschmer





Ability to think outside the box.

These are just a few of the many positive traits people with ADHD can have.

Think Tank Articles

ADHD to AD4K: A Clearer Picture of ADHD and the Brain Lexi Basciano

One of my favorite ways to unwind is watching The Simpsons. My partner Adam, our pup, and I cram onto the couch, our own Simpsons-like couch gag if you will, and giggle at the fast-paced, blink-and-you-miss-it, quick-witted humor. The episode we watched last night entitled, “Brother’s Little Helper,” features Bart’s Attention Deficit Disorder diagnosis. After a trip to the local laboratory and a comical demonstration on some studious guinea pigs, Bart’s parents agree to let him try an experimental drug. At first, Bart’s academic work ethic and behaviors substantially improve. When his sister Lisa questions his change in behavior, he asks her, “Did you know we only use ten percent of our brains?” To which Lisa and I rolled our eyes in a sort of fourth-wall breaking unison.

A Guide to ADHD in the Classroom and Two Case Studies for You to Solve Curtis Kelly & Heather Kretschmer

Rajiv is a first-year college student. His moderate ADHD makes him active and energetic, but because he is very talkative, he’s of mixed popularity with fellow students.  He has learned to manage his need to stand up and to move around, and he gets his homework done. However, he often misses your classes. In fact, since he has passed the limit of acceptable absences, you pull him aside after class to let him know he has failed. He pleads he loves your class and begs you to give him another chance. You falter and then tell him you will, but he must do extra work to make up for the missed classes and cannot miss even one more, for any reason. Knowing his condition, you allow him to decide what the extra work will be. He does. He gets excited and says he will put all his heart into the project. He swears he will never miss another class.

Chatty, Clumsy, Messy, Lazy, Shy, Ditzy—ADHD in Girls and Women Julia Daley

For too many girls and women, these adjectives will sound familiar—yet they may not be signs of personal character flaws, but instead can be signs of unrecognized Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). As it was believed for a long time that it only affected boys, the disorder in girls and women (and adult men) has been woefully under-studied by researchers, is often misdiagnosed by doctors, and is very much misunderstood by most people. Major research on the disorder in women goes back barely 20 years! The DSM-5, the current diagnostic manual used by the American Psychiatric Association, is still, broadly speaking, centered on the presentation of ADHD in young boys in its criteria for guiding doctors in making a diagnosis. If that sounds frustrating to you, you’re not alone—the more research I’ve done into this topic, the more infuriated I’ve become at the current state of ADHD research for those of us with two X chromosomes. Let’s take a closer look at what ADHD is, the neurological components behind the disorder, and the disparate impacts it has on the lives of girls and women with the condition.

The ADHD Friendly Classroom Trenton Flanigan Jones

It’s the first day of school and when you enter the classroom several students are already chatting loudly with peers, running around the classroom, and rummaging through your school supplies.  These students, bouncing off the walls and their peers with energy and excitement, can’t sit quietly in their seats no matter how many times you ask them to.  Later, you will discover that the most distracted and disruptive students often have an ADHD diagnosis and may not respond to conventional classroom management practices. What do you do? A savvy teacher will keep in mind that students with ADHD have unique needs in the classroom and will immediately implement the following strategies:

Think Tank Plus

ADHD: YouTube Series

Jessica McCabe (Main video in this issue) and Stephen Tonti (Main video in Neurodiversity issue)  struggled to overcome the challenges of ADHD. But then, using their high energy gifts, they each made a video series on YouTube to help others. As you can see from the examples below, they give advice on managing a wide range of difficult situations.

Jessica McCabe’s How to ADHD Channel


Stephen Tonti’s Attention Different Channel


Call for Contributions: Ideas and Articles Think Tank Staff

Become a Think Tank star! Here are some of the future issue topics we are thinking about. Would you, or anyone you know, like to write about any of these? Or is there another topic you’d like to recommend? Do you have any suggestions for lead-in, or just plain interesting, videos? How about writing a book review? Or sending us a story about your experiences? Contact us.

Going Deeper

ADHD & How Anyone Can Improve Their Focus

Huberman Lab Podcast #3

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The MindBrained Think Tanks+

is produced by the Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT) Mind, Brain, and Education Special Interest Group (BRAIN SIG). Kyoto, Japan. (ISSN 2434-1002)

Editorial Staff

      Stephen M. Ryan               Julia Daley               Marc Helgesen

             Heather Kretschmer          Curtis H. Kelly            Skye Playsted            

     Jason Walters            Mohammad Khari         Matt Ehlers


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