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Weekend homeschool links: May 17th – Simple Homeschool

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Weekend homeschool links: May 17th – Simple Homeschool






















“How I Learned to Quiet My ADHD Ruminations”

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It’s sunny outside. That means it’s a great day for my signature 5-Mile Rumination Walk.

I pack my things into my mini backpack and out the door I go. This is the beginning of a 4.75-mile rumination out in beautiful nature, with a quarter mile at the end reserved for noticing and enjoying said nature — 112 minutes of rumination and 8 minutes of awe.

Life is good. The weather is clear and welcoming. The trail is all mine. These are perfect conditions to start my dive into a deep, negative, ruminative trance. Soon I’ll be sucked into an intricately engineered inner-dialogue of ADHD angst, despair, and huffy ire — exactly what you’d want to be doing on a walk through the open-air beauty of the outdoors.

Not.

My Ruminations: Negative ADHD Thoughts Galore

My ADHD ruminations are usually born from a simple thought that bugs me just enough to spur further thought. Soon this little bug-thought grows into a goliath insect that lumbers like a creepy thing beside me for most of my precious time on the trail. Life is short. Trail walks are even shorter. Ruminations are hungry wasps that will eat up all my time if I let them.

My walking ruminations tend to be hypothetical conversations with people in my life — central or peripheral. I invent their words and my responses to them. None of it is real, it’s negative or positive, and it continues unabated because it feels impossible to halt.

[Read: 9 Calming Strategies for a Racing, Restless Mind]

At times, my ruminations are practice-talk for the future, which can be a good thing. I might practice what I’d say in a personal conversation, an ADHD coaching session with a client, or a presentation. These are helpful. Other times, these imaginary dialogues bring me down because they trash the opportunity to be positive. They invent and reinforce worst-case scenarios. They also trick my brain into thinking that my life really is a negative soup — all based on a complete fabrication.

It’s a Pattern: Putting a Stop to Negative Thoughts

Ruminations take over my mind and it feels as if I have no choice — but I do. But how do I choose if I don’t always realize I have options?

In the book ADHD 2.0, Edward Hallowell, M.D., and John Ratey, M.D., explain how our ADHD brains spend more time in the Default Mode Network (DMN) than does a non-ADHD brain. This DMN is where we generate our creative thinking — for better and for worse. My active DMN is what the trees along my walking trail can thank for my loud kvetching as I pass by.

But I knew all this and yet kept walking and fretting. Then, one day, a wave of nostalgia hit me when a song came on my phone during one of my rumination walks. It was a song I listened to during my COVID walks when the world shut down. Just as it did on those pandemic walks, the tune sparked in me a practiced response: teary-eyed sadness.

[Read: How to Stop Overthinking Things — A User’s Manual for Your ADHD Brain]

Then it hit me: Wait a second. There is no sad situation right now. COVID and that challenging time is over. That song was sparking an old, habituated response and it dawned on me that this was akin to what my ruminations do. They spur in me a practiced response to something that isn’t there. It’s a mirage, fake, not true. It showed me how far from reality my mind can stray, and how easily and quickly it gets there.

“Steph,” I said, “you don’t have to practice this response all the time. You don’t have to practice it at all.”

So, on that walk, I didn’t. I let it go. I squelched the beginnings of a new rumination. I quieted my mind because suddenly I saw that my reality was quite peaceful and secure. There were trees and birds. There was sun and a special time I could spend in nature. In that moment, I moved from ruminator extraordinaire to grateful me because, for once, I could just be without the struggle. I can’t describe how freeing that was.

Ruminating Thoughts and ADHD: Next Steps


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To achieve equity in higher education outcomes, we need to change how we teach – The Centre for Inclusive Education

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In this C4IE blog, Linda Graham, Lara Maia-Pike, and Jenna Gillett-Swan consider what the 2024 May Budget means for the inclusion of students in priority equity groups, and those with unidentified disabilities, in higher education.

In the week leading up to Budget Night, the Minister for Education, Hon Jason Clare MP, announced changes to HELP debt indexation and paid placements in teaching, nursing, and social work.  

The minister flagged that these announcements were part of the initial reforms the government will implement in response to the Universities Accord Final Report released in February this year.  

The report made 47 recommendations that could transform higher education in Australia. At the forefront are equity targets to ensure that the higher education system delivers opportunities for all. 

Governments have set a range of equity targets since the 2008 Bradley Review, but they have never been met and we continue to see substandard outcome patterns, particularly for Indigenous students and students with disability. 

The Accord report advocates building these students’ aspirations for higher education. However, the notion of low aspirations is problematic and nor do they guarantee successful participation, retention, and completion.  

Aspiring to and successfully enrolling in university is just one of the hurdles that students encounter in obtaining a degree qualification. Other hurdles include financial difficulties, cultural differences, language expectations, discrimination, and use of stereotypes. These hurdles form barriers that impact students as they progress through their degree.

The quality of university teaching was also reviewed in the Accord report with the recommendation that assessment goes beyond current measures of employment outcomes and student experience surveys. Further examination of resourcing and learning environments to better understand and support the student experience was also recommended.  

These are valuable recommendations, but whenever the question of quality teaching is raised, we must also ask: quality for whom?

Without attention to the needs of students in priority equity groups, for whom accessibility is not just nice but essential, what passes as quality for most will be woefully inadequate for many. 

What is ‘accessibility’?

Accessibility in education extends beyond the provision of lifts, ramps, tactile signs, adjusted materials, and websites able to be read through the use of screen readers.

Accessibility is also more than the provision of reasonable adjustments through disability support services, which are often generic, retrospective, and logistically tedious to access. Many students do not bother applying for these supports or give up trying, which means they must grapple with the barriers they experience alone and unsupported.

Prominent among these students are those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), who account for around 14% of school-age students. Australian schools are more successfully including these students with the result that more are qualifying for university. University education must also change to ensure these students continue to succeed.

To successfully include students with disabilities impacting language and information processing, accessibility resides in the comprehensibility of teaching and assessment, learning management systems, and support provision processes. 

What does accessible teaching and learning look like?

Text says" I have ADHD, and the way this has been laid out is really helpful. I had a little idea on a few of the topics but it has been refreshing to familrise myself with the terms and further educate"Researchers from QUT’s Centre for Inclusive Education (C4IE) recently applied accessibility principles that were developed and tested in the award-winning Accessible Assessment ARC Linkage project with three Queensland state secondary schools to create and deliver a new university unit

In designing the unit, we maximised comprehensibility by removing all unnecessary linguistic, procedural, and visual complexity. For example, all unit content was purpose written using clear and concise language. This reduced the navigational burden on students as it did not require them to locate academic readings. It also eliminated the financial burden imposed by textbooks.  

Text says: " I really love your approach to this class. You help me understand and I really enjoy it. In my culture we're not taught to think differently. You have shown me new ways and it's a challenge but it's very good".Low frequency words and specialist vocabulary were defined using student-friendly terminology in a hyperlinked glossary. Procedural barriers were removed through logical content sequencing, clear signposting, and a carefully scaffolded assessment task with clear Steps for Success aligned to weekly tutorials.  

Students were provided with micro tasks to complete in the weekly tutorial where they could access support from expert teachers and feedback from their peers. Together, the micro tasks helped students produce around a third of the content they needed for their final assessment, ensuring that students were provided with ample opportunity to prepare their submission in time. 

Student outcomes were positive with the team receiving an Accessibility in Action Award from the Australian Disability Clearing House on Education and Training (ADCET).

What is needed to make all university teaching accessible?

When designing with accessibility in mind, we can prevent confusion and frustration, reduce students’ need to seek clarification, and reach all students, including students with disability or those from culturally diverse backgrounds whether those students have been identified or not. 

This is more than ‘quality teaching’. This is inclusive practice. And it is what Australian universities need to implement at scale if widening participation is to achieve more than an increase in enrolments and instead achieve an increase in student engagement, achievement, and completion. 

To achieve this, the Australian government must reinstate grants to support rigorous research into inclusive practices in higher education and fund scale-up of the results. Instead, Tuesday’s budget contained an $8 million cut over four years for the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching.

While these outcome measures fail to measure what we really need to measure (and that is the actual quality and accessibility of teaching practice), there is no indication in this year’s budget as to how the Australian government will ensure the ambitious targets for widening participation will be realised nor, even more importantly from our perspective, how students enticed into higher education will be supported to succeed once there.

The Accessible Assessment ARC Linkage team has developed student, self and peer assessment tools to measure and improve the accessibility of teaching and learning from the perspective of students, teachers, and teacher-peers.

Perhaps it is time those tools make their way into higher education?

 


Photo of a woman standing in front of plantsLinda J. Graham is Director of The Centre for Inclusive Education (C4IE) and a Professor in the Faculty of Creative Industries, Education and Social Justice at QUT. She leads the Accessible Assessment ARC Linkage Project and QUT004: Living and Working Collaboratively, Ethically and Inclusively.

 

 

Headshot of woman. She has long brown hair and is looking at the camera.Lara Maia-Pike is Coordinator of The Centre for Inclusive Education (C4IE) and a PhD candidate at QUT, where she is investigating the post-school transition planning experiences of students with disability in secondary schools. Lara is also part of the team that designed and delivered QUT004: Living and Working Collaboratively, Ethically and Inclusively.

 

 

Jenna Gillett-Swan
Jenna Gillett-Swan is an Associate Professor and the co-leader for the Health and Wellbeing Research Program within the Centre for Inclusive Education (C4IE). Jenna specialises in qualitative child-centred participatory research methodologies. Jenna is also part of the team that designed and delivered QUT004: Living and Working Collaboratively, Ethically and Inclusively.