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Home  > Disabilities > Learning disabilities: the Attention Deficit Disorder with or without Hyperactivity (ADD-H)

Learning disabilities:
the Attention Deficit Disorder with or without Hyperactivity (ADD-H)

Online course: Educational innovation for the different learning styles (dyslexia, ADD, autism, etc.)

The ADD kid plunges into crisis the teacher's common sense: it is a child that seems to be intelligent, bright, vivacious, and yet he doesn't learn. If he doesn't learn, we might conclude that he's not  intelligent enough or that he just doesn't want to learn, he's lazy: as a conclusion it seems logical but it is wrong, clearly wrong.
To understand why it is wrong, we must know exactly what is the ADD or ADHD  (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) syndrome.

The ADHD pattern can be fully understood only from a multifactorial perspective, in which the neurological, psychological, social and pedagogic levels closely interact to determine the development of the ADD affected person.

ADD reveals with an evident difficulty to regulate attention: ADD reveals with an evident difficulty to regulate attention:

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ADHD kids can't get to focalize attention on details;

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they are easily distracted by irrelevant stimuli;

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they can't keep attention on a task, but pass from one to another without finishing one;

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when someone speaks they do not listen, and when speaking they jump from one topic to another;

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they are careless in everyday activities, losing their things, forgetting appointments, they are always late, etc.

In some cases impulsivity and motor restlessness is specially relevant:

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they cannot wait, for instance, their turn to receive or say something;

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they are extremely impatient and untimely: they continuously interrupt the others and interpose themselves in any context;

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they run endlessly, move in the seat, they seem to run away from everything.

Unavoidably, all these negative traits influence their learning possibilities: performance and school records get worse progressively.

Their ability to process and organize knowledge, though being potentially good, lack an essential function: the coordination and management of all cognitive and behavioral activities, usually guaranteed by metacognitive processes.

Kids affected by ADHD lack the "command office"

for activation, inhibitions and modulation of all executive functions.

In response to a more or less new stimulus, they cannot properly modulate their organism activation state, therefore they don't reach to focalize attention to analyze its characteristics; the working memory processing activity doesn't proceed in a coordinated mode under the guidance of a "learning to learn" mechanism that the mind has developed with time, that's why attention is not kept for enough time.

It becomes clear that following a traditionally programmed instruction, that usually requires attention to speech (not always stimulant neither engaging) and readings, is out of the ADHD best wishes and willingness. In these cases it just leads to failure.

The ADHD would require from teachers and instructors a considerable effort of reorganization and coordination of their own resources to provide these students with a highly structured and engaging educational environment, for stimulation and guidance in the management of their own cognitive processes.

Knowledge Master concept maps technology offers a valid support to teacher's working with an ADHD student and to the students themselves: the graphic, logical and cognitive characteristics of knowledge representation and management offer a progressive and natural guide in the first phases of learning, that proceeds afterwards, looking for insight, through the support of the following automated cognitive functions, specific of Knowledge Master cognitive engine:
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most relevant concepts recognition automatic  function

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self-assessment and control questions

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semantic searching

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concept types searching

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concepts and relations categorization

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map construction, in depth, etc.

These functions stimulate and induce the activation of cognitive processes, attention, exploration and observation, of analysis and critical comparison, intuition, of categorization and reasoning.

All these functions have the technological support of vocal synthesis, the active voice has an important role, because it's nearer to human communication.

Interaction with these functions progressively creates a metacognitive dialog between the student and the knowledge base, that enlivens knowledge processing.

This way, the ADHD student acquires a metacognitive regulation function that progressively creates a framework for his cognitive processes.

There is a strong correlation between ADHD and creativity.

Because their attention wanders easily, the ADHD person can often see a problem from several different directions and arrive at new, unique conclusions. It is not unusual for such people to have a number of careers, sometimes simultaneously. Beside creative, other characteristics frequently observed in this "community" are: "artistic", "sprinter", "intuitive", "empathetic", "visionary", "inventive", "sensitive", "original", "loving", "exuberant".


The diagnostic criteria for ADD seem to fit into two clear divisions. On the one hand they describe a particular way of thinking as seen from the outside and on the other they describe the effect of having this way of thinking in a society that doesn't tolerate the difference very well. It is not surprising to find high intelligence and creativity along side depression and low self-esteem in the adult criteria. Try being highly intelligent or creative in our conformist society and see what it does to your self-esteem.

Knowledge Master and cognitive training:

Cognitive training consists of a variety of exercises designed to help improve functioning in areas such as attention control, memory, thinking before acting, visual and auditory processing, listening and reading. The principle supports cognitive training is to help improve the "core" abilities and self-control necessary before an individual can achieve success in studies. Knowledge Master exercises "drill for skill" directly in the areas the areas where specific cognitive difficulties occur.

These tasks are highly interactive, use voice "intelligently" and can be supported with graphics, structures, and multimedia.

Since this approach requires repetition and one to one instruction, Knowledge Master is the easiest and most cost effective way to implement this type of training. Knowledge Master also provides the option of game or puzzle like structures to motivate students to complete training.

Cognitive training is important for the inattentive or distracted student.

This is why in any learning technology for people  affected by ADHD, some specific factors must be involved:

  • Strong interaction (interaction is an important element because it raises motivation and attention, for instance automatic assessment questions, paths and some other functions in Knowledge Master).

  • Optimal use of voice. Often, the student affected by ADHD has also reading problems. Perception of written concept names  and at the the same time perceiving them read aloud reinforce concentration in reading and on contents to be learned. Voice in KM is also associated  to the execution of paths and to the dialog based on automatic assessment questions. Multimodal perception also contributes to an optimal use of working memory.

  • Graphical interface. The graphical interface catches the attention of the individual affected by any form of ADD. To this interface, most of the dynamic functions of Knowledge Master are associated.

:: Learning disabilities ::
punto elenco Introduction: Learning disabilities
punto elenco Dyslexia
punto elenco The autistic student and learning: experience also accomplished with autism

:: Insight ::

punto elenco Learning and dyslexia

:: Experimentation ::

punto elenco The experience in Rome, 2004
punto elenco Experimentation on dyslexia in Cagliari in 2006


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