ADHD and Word Problems: Hate Them or Embrace Them

If you are like me, you hated doing word problems in school. Word problems are hard because there isn’t a methodical way of doing them. Solving them requires insight, trial-and-error thinking, patience, and practice.

The reason word problems were so important in school is because they require us to think more deeply, to use reasoning and deductive logic to analyze and solve problems.  In other words, they develop us as thinkers.

Word problems are a three-part process.

First, word problems require you to identify what you are solving for. Second, you must observe, identify, and filter relevant known, unknown, tangible, and intangible variables and then organize the relevant variables into a logical sequence.  In other words, derive an equation. The third step is to solve the equation methodically.

For me, solving the equation isn’t so bad. What I hate is the abstract nature and trial-and-error process of identifying relevant variables to derive the equation.  Processing takes a bit of creativity, and that takes practice to develop the skill.

Now that I understand ADHD, I can see why word problems are more challenging for those with ADHD.  Effectively, you use your working memory to identify, load, filter, and sort the variables to derive equations.  Because the ADHD brain struggles with working memory, it stands to reason that deriving equations is more difficult.

Word problems are a great metaphor to understand the plight of many with ADHD who are looking for tips, tricks, and strategies. Just apply them like you would apply the equation and you get what you want; right?  Unfortunately, no.  The dynamic of solving ADHD problems is not so simple. You see, the relevant variables differ by individual and situation, which explains why many are drowning in a sea of strategies (a sea of equations) that are not working.

The trick around managing ADHD is to derive your equation that starts with identifying the relevant individual and situational variables and then deriving your equation.  From my perspective, the ADHD coaching industry was born out of the need to help individuals derive an equation that works.  If you struggle with ADHD and dislike word problems, you must start by taking the overwhelm out of deriving your equation.  At DIG Coaching, we excavate equations daily.

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