The Child’s Attention to Schoolwork

This excerpt gave me a new perspective on a frustrating pattern in our homechooling experience.

From the book Scattered: How Attention Deficit Disorder originates and what you can do about it, p. 126

The nagging hunger for emotional contact explains the oft-observed “paradox” that many children with ADD are capable of focused work in the presence of an adult who is keeping them company and paying attention to them. This is no paradox at all, if we see the opposing roles of anxiety and attachment in influencing attention: attachment promotes attention, anxiety undermines it.

When the child is not concerned with seeking emotional contact, his prefrontal cortex is freed to allocate attention to the task at hand, illustrating that what we call attention deficit disorder is not a fixed, unalterable physiological state; it’s a physiological state, yes, but not fixed and unalterable.

The warmth and satisfaction of positive contact with the adult is often just as good as a psychostimulant in supplying  the child’s prefrontal cortex with dopamine. Greater security means less anxiety and more focused attention. The unseen factor that remains constant in all situations is the child’s unconscious yearning for attachment, dating back to the first years of life.

Where this need is satisfied, ADD problems begin to recede.

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