Learning Disabilities Like ADHD Can Interfere With Bible Study, But Help Is Available

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An important way for believers to connect with God is to read the Bible, but people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may face challenges connecting with the written word, including the spoken word. of God. Fortunately, these challenges are not insurmountable.

ADHD, also known as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), is one of the most common childhood disorders, affecting more than 6.4 million children in the United States. Children or adults with ADHD struggle with inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity, or a combination of all three.

Maintain focus

According to Cindy Hall, director of the Dyslexia Center at Lindsay Lane Christian Academy in Athens, people with ADHD find it difficult to stay focused.

Believers with ADHD may have difficulty with their studies, including their personal devotions, and may have difficulty paying attention to and extracting meaning from the scriptures.

Fight distractions

“Studying the Bible is doubly difficult for those of us with ADHD because we are so easily distracted,” said Jamelyn Smith, functional family therapist at AMI Kids in Montgomery. “Even during prayer, we are distracted and we feel guilty. Guilt can lead to resentment because it is difficult. It’s easy to find excuses not to read the Bible and feel guilty for letting it down.

Hall observed these challenges among students in a classroom setting, but noted that many people with ADHD are able to maintain their focus in areas of particular interest and in which they have specific talents or abilities.

Spiritual life, she says, can be one of these areas.

“I’ve had students who seem to have a hard time memorizing academic facts, but who shine in the realm of remembering the scriptures,” Hall said. “It is my personal observation that the Holy Spirit can overcome all negative tendencies and serve the hearts of each of us.”

Brenda Brown, secretary of the Randolph Baptist Association, found this to be true for her granddaughter who was diagnosed with ADHD at an early age.

“She’s going to sit down and read her Bible,” Brown said. “When she reads, it comes to life. She likes it. Her Sunday school class provides a notebook to help students learn. She likes to do that.

Strategies that work

Anna Meherg, Coordinator of Student Support Services at the University of Mobile, helps a large number of students diagnosed with ADHD.

“They can’t help they can’t focus,” Meherg said. “If they could flip a switch and change it, they would do it in the blink of an eye.”

Meherg encourages these students to think outside the box and ask the question: What should study look like?

She encourages students to learn what works for them and to employ alternative methods that help them connect with the word of God.

“Having a devotional book separated by topics and finding one of particular interest to my day really helps me,” Smith said. “I also find times to study when I’m not easily distracted. Everyone needs to find a plan that works for them.

Auditory learners may enjoy listening to recorded scriptures and Bible studies, or use a phone app like Streetlights, which offers interpretive reading of scripture passages.

“Your quiet time doesn’t have to be like our grandparents, where we sit for hours collecting information,” Meherg said. “It’s about collecting information and not being afraid to change it, because when it comes to studying and learning, there is no right way. We want them to know that it’s okay, they don’t learn like everyone else. As long as they get the message, get the message, and get the truth, that’s what matters. “

Management of ADHD may improve as a student ages and gains experience in coping skills. Parents of children with ADHD can help them stay on track by providing them with the organization, responsibility, and study tools necessary for their particular learning style.

Bible teachers can help students succeed by understanding the challenges of ADHD and helping students find creative ways to engage with the scriptures.

Find out what works

Hall noted that ADHD is an imbalance in brain chemistry. As with other physical problems, medication can help. Families and people with ADHD should consult their doctor to see if medication can be of benefit.

Hall said a devotional plan and a dedicated study space with curated study materials can eliminate the distractions that invade quiet time. Adding variety can also help.

“God is not limited by our frailties or our human struggles,” Hall said. “The ministry of the Holy Spirit is stronger than a learning disability. We have the promise in Isaiah 55:11 that the word of God will not return void, and I fully believe it.

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Tips for Connecting with the Word of God

  • Use apps such as Streetlights that offer interpretation in the form of speech.
  • Read small pieces at a time.
  • To study topics of special interest.
  • Satisfied the urge to fuss with tools like a stress ball, which can be used inconspicuously.
  • Color code types of information to help stimulate and engage.
  • To employ lists, reminder notes, phone alarms or strict places for books and study articles – organizing can help learners stay on track.
  • Add variety to combat boredom, such as reading / listening, journaling and writing scriptures, prayer requests and prayer answers. (Lanell Downs Smith)

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Dyslexia makes reading difficult but ‘the heart that seeks God finds a way’

It is estimated that one in ten people worldwide has dyslexia, a specific learning disability characterized by difficulty recognizing words accurately and fluently, and poor spelling and decoding skills.

People with dyslexia have difficulty studying the Bible, but many find God to be faithful, guiding those who seek Him despite their learning difficulties.

Cindy Hall, director of the Dyslexia Center at Lindsay Lane Christian Academy (LLCA) in Athens, defines dyslexia as “a surprising confusion about language, despite average or above average intelligence, adequate education, and work in the community. his mother tongue ”.

According to the International Dyslexia Association, people with dyslexia have problems reading comprehension and reduced reading experience.

For those seeking to connect with God through the written word, dyslexia creates real challenges for reading and understanding the Bible.

“Dyslexic students aren’t lazy,” Hall said. “In fact, they probably work harder than everyone else in the class,” Hall said.

Dyslexia is also not an intelligence problem, Hall said. People with dyslexia are bright, talented, and creative people who are often very talented.

“It’s important to know that dyslexia can be corrected but can never be eradicated because it is a characteristic, not a disease,” Hall said.

LLCA’s Dyslexia Center began after the school administration realized the difference Hall’s Orton-Gillingham method of tutoring made for a dyslexic kindergarten child, Hall said.

The Orton-Gillingham approach to teaching provides phonemic awareness to teach students how to listen to single words or syllables and break them down into individual phonemes.

The approach helps students mix individual sounds in a word, changing, removing, and comparing the sounds in their heads.

“Teaching through phonetics is the key to success for a child with dyslexia, because memorizing words typically doesn’t work with these students,” Hall said. “But if you can teach them the sounds of letters, the basics of phonetics, and how to divide words into syllables, these are really helpful. “

The phoneme / grapheme correspondence defines which letters represent each sound and how to mix the letters into single-syllable words.

Through the Orton-Gillingham approach, learners gain knowledge of English, including syllables and rules of the language, Hall said.

Support students

At Lindsay Lane, this approach is combined with classroom accommodations, small groups, one-to-one tuition, and outreach activities that help all LLCA students understand dyslexia and support their dyslexic classmates.

“Our students improve their reading skills and are able to read well by the time they complete the program,” Hall said. “They may never be avid book readers; however, they are certainly able to read. Dyslexia would not be the barrier preventing our Dyslexia Center graduates from reading the word of God.

Last year, LLCA graduated 18 students from the Dyslexia Center. These students returned to the regular classroom, studying all subjects with accommodation support.

Following the center theme verse, 1 Peter 4:10, Hall considers it a pleasure to serve students and families affected by dyslexia.

Help for teachers

And for classroom or Sunday school teachers who want to help students struggling with dyslexia, Hall offers two tips: learn more about dyslexia, and use basic accommodations to take the burden of writing and writing down. excessive reading.

Dyslexic believers can also benefit from private tutoring and basic phonetics education, Hall said. Listening to the scriptures through an app, podcast, or audio Bible can help them connect with God through the written word.

“It is my experience that the heart that seeks God finds a way to connect with Him, despite all the challenges it faces in its life,” said Hall.

Further information on Orton-Gillingham training and resources through Orton Academy is available at www.ortonacademy.org.

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